Browns quarterback Derek Anderson, left, takes a snap from Hank Fraley against the New York Giants. He suffered a concussion later and must pass a medical evaluation before the opener.
Mark Duncan / AP Enlarge
BEREA, Ohio - After huddling around coach Romeo Crennel and kneeling in prayer, the Cleveland Browns lined up for stretching drills as they began practicing for the Dallas Cowboys.
Wide receiver Braylon Edwards went to his usual spot, looked up and greeted his teammates.
"I missed y'all, man," he said.
Edwards, sidelined since Aug. 9 with a severely cut right foot, and Pro Bowl quarterback Derek Anderson, out for two weeks with a concussion, were both back at practice yesterday for the banged-up Browns, who only have a few days left to get as healthy as possible for their high-profile opener and a season of great expectations.
Crennel said as long as Anderson doesn't have any setbacks during the workout, the second-year QB will start against the Cowboys. The same is true for Edwards, whose foot was sliced open when teammate Donte' Stallworth accidentally stepped on his heel during post-practice sprints Aug. 9.
Edwards was running in his socks at the time. He has yet to speak with the local media about his injury and the Browns said he would not be available for interviews until tomorrow. However, during the time Cleveland's locker room was open to reporters, Edwards sat at his stall and rubbed the area where his heel was stitched up following his encounter with Stallworth's cleats.
Anderson, too, was unavailable for comment because the Browns coaching staff wanted him to practice first.
Crennel said Anderson, who got hurt when he was sacked by New York Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora in an exhibition game Aug. 18, will have to pass a medical evaluation before he's cleared for the opener.
"The doctors need to see that he can handle the sunlight, which is pretty bright out today, that he can handle the verbiage of the offense, be able to handle the checks and do the things that a quarterback has to do," Crennel said. "If he can do those things and doesn't have any headaches afterwards then chances are they will let him go."
Anderson appeared to be himself during the 30 minutes of practice open to the media. He wasn't wearing glasses on a beautiful, sun-splashed holiday and the fun-loving 25-year-old joked around with tight end Steve Heiden as he warmed up by throwing to third-string quarterback Ken Dorsey.
After stretching, Anderson sprinted over to the far side of the field and worked with the first-team offense during the initial phases of practice.
But while Edwards and Anderson seem ready for Sunday, the Browns could be missing other key players against the Cowboys.
Running back Jamal Lewis (hamstring) and safety Brodney Pool (concussion) were kept indoors and Pro Bowl return specialist Josh Cribbs (ankle) only took part in special teams walkthrough drills before heading inside with trainers after 25 minutes.
Safety Sean Jones (knee) was also back but limited and linebacker Willie McGinest (groin) practiced. While McGinest, Jones and Lewis will likely play, Pool and Cribbs appear to be longshots for the opener.
Cribbs was in a walking boot until a few days ago. He said his left ankle, which he sprained during a pileup against the Giants, has responded well to treatment. The Browns, though, may be overly cautious with the versatile Cribbs, who returned two kickoffs and one punt for TDs last season.
They'd rather have Cribbs as close to 100 percent as possible for their Week 2 match-up against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"I'm doing everything I can do to get back out there on the field," said Cribbs. "But it's not up to me. They're going to do what's best for me and the program. They're going to make an assessment as the week progresses."
On a positive note, guard Ryan Tucker was back in pads for the first time since undergoing offseason hip surgery.
Tucker's return gives the offensive line depth following an injury to right guard Rex Hadnot (knee). Hadnot will be replaced by Seth McKinney, who started eight games before a shoulder injury ended his 2007 season.
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