BEREA, Ohio (AP) -Browns center LeCharles Bentley returned to the practice field Sunday, but only as a spectator.
His injured knee is approximately 70 percent, and he hopes to join the team for practice by the end of the month. Bentley still hopes to play this season.
``I'm just staying the course,'' he said. ``We'll have to see how things play out.''
Bentley, 27, watched as the Browns practiced in their field house after morning rain showers. He wore his white No. 57 jersey and orange shorts and spent much of the time observing offensive line drills.
``He wants to be a Brown, so were glad to have him around,'' coach Romeo Crennel said.
Bentley, a two-time Pro Bowler with New Orleans, signed a six-year, $36 million contract in March 2006 to join his hometown team. He tore the left patellar tendon on the first full-contact play of Cleveland's training camp last summer.
Following surgery, a staph infection attacked the knee and he needed three more operations. Bentley said Sunday that doctors even considered amputating his leg.
He was cleared to return to the field last month by Dr. Russell Warren, the New York Giants' team physician who performed two of Bentley's operations.
The Browns gave Bentley an MRI when he reported for training camp and decided he should continue his rehab for another four weeks. He's been working out away from the Browns' facilities but attends meetings.
``My day is pretty simple,'' Bentley said. ``I come in, go to meetings, sometimes I get treatment, a little bit, if I need it. I eat with the guys, hang out a little bit, leave, go work out, come back, go to some more meetings.''
Bentley, who attended Cleveland's St. Ignatius High School and Ohio State, was scheduled for a fifth operation in June until Warren said it wasn't necessary.
Bentley said he'd be happy to eventually get his knee to 90 percent of its previous strength. He flashed a smile when asked what he can do in workouts.
``Leap tall buildings in a single bound,'' he said. ``No, I do a lot of cutting drills, a lot of offensive line drills, a lot of stuff they were doing out here.''
Bentley acknowledged that he could begin the season on the physically-unable-to-perform list, which would force him to miss the first six weeks.
The Browns have handled Bentley's situation delicately in the past few months, often deferring questions to the player and his representatives. Bentley on Sunday denied that his relationship with the club had become contentious.
``I love everybody,'' he said. ``There are no hard feelings.''
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