|Browns' Edwards looking and sounding worthy of high draft choice|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 19 September 2007 13:53|
The Browns wide receiver seems to have discovered a passion for the less glamorous side of his position, downfield blocking.
Edwards' effort helped Jamal Lewis run for 216 yards against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. He also made a spectacular diving touchdown catch and finished with a career-best eight receptions for 146 yards and two touchdowns.
Edwards leaped for passes, took hits and repeatedly came down with the ball - at last delivering the kind of performance expected of a No. 3 overall draft pick.
For the third-year receiver, it was an effort he feels symbolizes his new focus.
``I want to be great,'' Edwards said Wednesday. ``I want to do everything it takes to become great.''
The 24-year-old had shown flashes of brilliance in his first two seasons with Cleveland, but he dropped too many passes and created constant distractions - complaining about not getting the ball, showing up late for meetings, criticizing coaches and throwing a sideline tantrum.
This season, the only sideshow he's involved in is tying up defensive backs on running plays.
``The easy attitude to have is 'This block won't matter,''' Edwards said. ``You see a lot of guys do it. I myself have been a victim to it before.''
Lewis credited downfield blocks with helping him to average 8 yards per carry against the Bengals and springing him for big runs, including a 66-yard TD.
``It felt good knowing that I did that, helping him out,'' Edwards said. ``It's definitely a team that's coming together here.''
Edwards is the healthiest he's been since his rookie season, when he tore his right anterior cruciate ligament and missed the final four games of his rookie season.
He rehabbed the knee in record time for the start of the 2006 season, but acknowledged Wednesday that physically he wasn't 100 percent. Being healthy has improved his confidence.
``I don't know if I would have made a lot of those jumping catches last year, or tried to make those catches, instinctively,'' Edwards said.
The 51-45 win over Cincinnati showcased the offense the Browns have envisioned since drafting Edwards in 2005: A team that can run the ball, and if opponents overcompensate, can throw to tight end Kellen Winslow and Edwards.
``I'd like to have him on our team,'' said Oakland Raiders coach Lane Kiffin, who's preparing for Edwards and the Browns' offense this Sunday. ``He looks exciting and looks fun to have. You throw the ball anywhere near him, he'll make the play.''
Edwards refused to call his performance against Cincinnati a complete game, criticizing himself for dropping the first pass thrown to him.
Another sign of his new attitude is that he didn't create any problems after Week 1, when the Browns were embarrassed by Pittsburgh yet again. He had just three catches for 49 yards and didn't complain.
``I believe that I'm maturing. I just believe that I'm learning to play the game from a mental standpoint as well as a physical standpoint,'' Edwards said.