BEREA, Ohio (AP) – Kellen Winslow’s serious leg injuries and nearly two years of watching from the sideline robbed him of speed and perhaps a touch of talent.

There isn’t an ounce of bravado missing, though.

Cleveland’s gifted receiver still believes there is no one quite like him.

“I hate to be brash,” Winslow said with a smile. “But I think my 90 percent is still better than every tight end out there.”

Relaxed, mature and eager to get back on the field for the Browns, Winslow spoke openly and candidly on Monday about his comeback from a 2005 motorcycle accident that nearly ended his promising NFL career.

During a 15-minute interview, the 23-year-old revealed that his medical setbacks were much more severe than were ever disclosed; that he’ll never be completely recovered from his knee injury; that he recently married his longtime girlfriend, Janelle; and that the public’s perception of him – mostly based on his infamous “I’m a soldier” comment following a loss in college at Miami – is inaccurate.

His two-year ordeal has strengthened Winslow physically and spiritually. He better appreciates the blessings around him. He has grown as a man. There has never been any doubt about his wondrous athletic ability, now the versatile 6-foot-4, 248-pounder appears to truly be a complete package.

“I had to climb a lot of mountains to get over this injury,” he said. “It wasn’t just one wall. I’ve been through a lot these past two years.”

Despite the missed time, Winslow remains confident he’ll approach the star status projected for him when Cleveland selected the son of a Hall of Fame tight end with the No. 6 overall pick in 2004.

“There is no mystery in my mind. I know what I can do out there,” he said. “I’ve watched film of myself, I haven’t lost a step. I’m just tired of hearing what potential I have. I know what I can do, and I’m ready to get on the field and do it.”

Winslow, however, said he’s never going to be 100 percent because of the magnitude of his right knee injury, which required several surgeries and was complicated by a staph infection.

“It is going to be hard to get back to full, 100 percent,” he said. “I think, me being 90 percent or somewhere around there – some days it differentiates – 95 percent, 85 percent, 80 percent, but you just have to play it by ear.”

Winslow has looked as quick as ever in training camp. After catching a pass last week, he put a shoulder fake on Gary Baxter that dropped the Browns’ top cornerback, a move that drew cheers from the crowd and hoots from players.

“He’s definitely special,” Baxter said.

But if he’s not 100 percent as he says, how can Winslow say he hasn’t lost a step?

“Well, about two practices ago, I had a long run,” he said. “I didn’t get caught. I thought I was going to get caught. That’s how I gauge myself. I haven’t lost a step. Some days, I feel real good, some days I don’t feel so good. The two years off and all the surgeries I had to go through takes its toll.”

At first, Winslow was reluctant to divulge many details about his injuries from the crash, which took place while he was attempting stunts on his high-powered bike in a secluded parking lot.

Later, he said that in addition to the infection, which caused him to lose 30 pounds, he fractured his femur, tore two ligaments securing his knee cap and sustained other injuries when he smashed into the ground.

“My knee was all banged up,” he said, “the size of a basketball when I was in the hospital. It was huge. I was crying and all that, but never was there any doubt in my mind that I would be back.”

The crash came just as Winslow was fully recovered after breaking his leg in the second game of his rookie season. While trying to recover an onsides kick at Dallas, Winslow broke his right fibula and missed 14 games.

Then came the crash, an accident that didn’t help a player already fighting an off-the-field image as a hothead and troublemaker.

Winslow’s teammates, however, paint a very different picture of him. Not only do they marvel at his physical prowess and unmatched work ethic, but the Browns see Winslow as the consummate teammate.

“I think that the whole “soldier” thing was blown out of proportion,” said quarterback Charlie Frye. “Kellen is a great guy and gets along with everybody on the team. Everybody respects him and they look at him as a leader. He just plays the game with a lot of passion.”

Browns coach Romeo Crennel feels Winslow is misunderstood.

“Sometimes, one statement that a guy makes gets pushed out of proportion. Then he gets tagged as being ‘that guy,”‘ Crennel said. “I think some of the things that happened in college stuck with him. He is not a negative guy. I haven’t found him to be a bad person or a guy who you wouldn’t want to be around.”

Winslow knows as long as he’s healthy and productive, he’ll be able to put some distance between himself and the past.

“Some things happen for a reason,” he said. “Now is my time. I’m ready to go.”


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