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Late surgery may slow Edwards

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Late surgery may slow Edwards

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Mary Kay Cabot

Plain Dealer Reporter

Braylon Edwards will be hard-pressed to reach his goal of being ready to play by the beginning of the 2006 season.

Edwards will undergo surgery Tuesday to reconstruct his torn right anterior cruciate ligament - almost a month after suffering the injury Dec. 4 at home against Jacksonville.

Edwards had to wait until the swelling went down in the knee until the surgery could be performed. Friday, the Browns' top pick in last spring's draft said the knee was feeling much better.

But doctors originally told Edwards that his recovery would take about nine months, meaning it was conceivable back in December that he could be back by the start of the regular season on Sept. 10, 2006.

But now that's been pushed back to early October, assuming doctors are still going by the nine-month timetable. A request to interview Browns medical personnel was declined.

As it is, orthopedic surgeons who perform such surgeries say fans shouldn't have great expectations for a player in his first year back from ACL surgery.

"It would be challenging for a player having surgery in January to be back to full speed by next season," said Dr. Craig Faulks, a sports medicine specialist in Washington D.C., and a former team physician for the New England Patriots. "It's not that it can't be done, but from what I've seen, the first year back is going to be a tough year."

Faulks said it takes "two or three years for the knee to be as good as it's going to be."

He also said a player risks re-injury if he comes back too soon. The length of the recovery, Faulks said, depends on the kind of graft material used in the reconstruction.

Typically, one of three materials is used: a part of the player's own patellar tendon (the one that runs in the front of the knee from kneecap to the leg), part of the player's own hamstring, or tissue from a cadaver.

Faulks said the patient is usually given the option of which material he wants to use. It's unknown which will be used in Edwards' surgery, but Faulks said it could be the patellar tendon "because it heals the most reliably." However, he said, it's also the toughest and most grueling rehab of the three because "the patellar tendon is more important to the overall function of the knee than the hamstring."

Browns right tackle Ryan Tucker underwent ACL reconstruction in 1997 using the central third of his patellar tendon and hasn't had any problem since, but said he suffered from patellar tendinitis for the first two years after his surgery that made it so painful it was difficult to get down in his stance.

He said he thought the hamstring might be a better option for Edwards. Tucker also advised Edwards to take his time coming back.

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