Winslow’s long wait to play is over
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Kellen Winslow has sprinted past cornerbacks and abused linebackers in practices throughout training camp.
Now comes a tougher test.
A talented tight end whose career has been stalled by serious leg injuries, Winslow will play in his first game in nearly two years when the Cleveland Browns visit the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night.
While most veteran players dislike preseason games, Winslow might be more eager than a rookie trying to earn a roster spot.
“He is going to be excited,” Browns coach Romeo Crennel said. “He wants to prove that he’s capable and the adrenaline is going to be flowing. We will see how he handles things mentally and how he handles things physically.”
Winslow had an outstanding career catching passes at Miami, and the Browns selected the son of a Hall of Fame tight end with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2004 draft.
But Winslow broke his right fibula while trying to recover an onsides kick at Dallas on Sept. 19, 2004, and missed the final 14 games of his rookie season.
Then came a horrifying motorcycle accident on May 1, 2005. Winslow’s right knee was so badly injured it required several surgeries and was complicated by a staph infection.
The 23-year-old said last month he’s never going to be 100 percent because of the magnitude of the injury, but insisted he hasn’t lost a step.
“There is no mystery in my mind. I know what I can do out there,” Winslow 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.”
Those who’ve watched Winslow in camp won’t dispute his claim.
“I can honestly say that if he gets back to feeling 100 percent, I think we are seeing what could be one of the top three or five tight ends in the league,” Browns wideout Joe Jurevicius said. “That’s just by looking at this guy in minicamp, and he’s only going to get better as time goes on.”
Crennel said Winslow probably will play into the second quarter. The second-year coach will closely monitor his performance while keeping a close eye on the middle of his offensive line. The Browns already are down to their third center — Alonzo Ephraim — after LeCharles Bentley sustained a season-ending knee injury and Bob Hallen left the club for personal and medical reasons.
Other banged-up starters include quarterback Charlie Frye (thumb), cornerback Gary Baxter (knee) and wideout Braylon Edwards (knee). Frye should start, Baxter is questionable and Edwards probably won’t play.
The Eagles, who lost to Oakland in the Hall of Fame game on Sunday, also are dealing with injuries. Among the more notable players Philadelphia will be missing are: running backs Brian Westbrook (foot), Ryan Moats (knee), Bruce Perry (concussion) and Correll Buckhalter (knee) and wideout Todd Pinkston (leg).
Quarterback Donovan McNabb is scheduled to play 1.5 quarters, before giving way to Jeff Garcia and Timmy Chang. Koy Detmer, who is competing for the No. 3 spot, isn’t scheduled to play.
Rookie defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley will get limited action after a two-week holdout forced the first-round pick to miss the preseason opener.
With four of the top six running backs sidelined, the Eagles will rely on Reno Mahe, newly signed Marty Johnson and fullbacks Thomas Tapeh and Jason Davis to run the ball.
McNabb hopes to build off the success he had against the Raiders. He led the offense on a 61-yard touchdown drive in his only series.
“That was a good start for the first-team offense,” offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said. “Now we are expecting more from the rest of the fellows as far as production.”