BEREA, Ohio (AP) – Just as Braylon Edwards was showing signs of becoming a special first-round pick for the Cleveland Browns, he became another broken one.

Edwards will miss the rest of the season with a torn knee ligament, yet another setback for one of Cleveland’s top picks.

The No. 3 overall selection in the 2005 draft, Edwards tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while trying to make a leaping catch in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 20-14 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Edwards’ knee buckled awkwardly to the inside after he landed stiff-legged on the incompletion.

“I knew right away,” Edwards said after hobbling into the Browns’ locker room Monday on crutches. “To be honest, I hoped for the best. I prayed right away. But I knew as soon as I landed it was bad. I heard it buckle. I heard it crumble.”

Browns fans have heard it before.

Of the seven players Cleveland has selected in the first round since 1999, only center Jeff Faine is currently starting. The others: Tim Couch, Courtney Brown, Gerard Warren, William Green and Kellen Winslow are either out of football (Couch), playing elsewhere (Brown and Warren in Denver) or injured.

Winslow, the club’s top pick in 2004, missed 14 games in his rookie season after breaking his leg and then was lost for the 2005 season when he tore the ACL in his right knee in a motorcycle in May.

On Sunday, Winslow, who ran up and down the stadium steps in the snow before the game, was on the sideline for the first time this season and saw Edwards get hurt. Now the two top picks can rehab side-by-side.

The injuries haven’t helped the Browns turn around a franchise that has seen its share of dark days in recent years.

“What is it, Murphy’s Law?” tight end Steve Heiden said. “We haven’t gotten a lot of breaks. But that’s football.”

Edwards, who finished the season with 32 receptions for 512 yards, caught two touchdown passes in the first half from fellow rookie Charlie Frye, making his first career start, as the Browns built a 14-3 halftime lead.

The Frye-to-Edwards connection is one the club hopes can become a Cleveland fixture for years. And although his injury will slow that development, Edwards thinks he and Frye have chemistry already.

“It was a lot of fun,” said Edwards, who finished with five catches for 86 yards before getting hurt. “He made plays and he made things happen. We gave a glimpse of the future. That’s something we can do next year.

“We have a lot going for us for next year.”

Coach Romeo Crennel said surgery has not been scheduled because doctors are waiting for the swelling in Edwards’ knee to subside. Players with similar injuries typically need eight to 12 months of rehab to recover.

“They told me it’s usually a nine-month period,” Edwards said. “They told me the highest month. Some people come back faster and some people come back right at nine months. It all depends on dedication. I’ve seen a lot of them.”

Edwards said he was aware of the bad luck that has seemingly haunted the Browns’ class of top picks.

“I know I shouldn’t, but I was online reading some things and I just saw how all the first-rounds have been busts,” he said. “I don’t see that. I don’t think we can control getting hurt. It’s not one of those things where I said, Let me go out here and tear my ACL.’ We sell out.

“We do everything we can for the organization, but freak things happen.”

They seem to occur to the Browns more than other teams.

“I can’t explain it,” Crennel said. “I think in Braylon’s case, he was making another big effort to make a play for this team. He came down awkwardly on the knee. As a result of it, I don’t think you can say that’s a curse. It’s just part of football. A lot of guys get hurt playing football. We’ll overcome it and move forward.”

AP-ES-12-05-05 1724EST


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