BEREA, Ohio -- Carrying his cleats but still without pads or his orange helmet, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Braylon Edwards emerged from the locker room Tuesday and slowly strolled onto the practice field, walking a few feet behind new coach Eric Mangini.
Edwards then took a familiar turn -- to the stationary bikes.
Edwards missed his fourth day of practice with an injury that's growing more mysterious with each passing day.
Mangini, who has refused to reveal the nature of Edwards' injury or a timetable for his return, reiterated that Cleveland's top playmaker will join his teammates for drills when he is medically cleared by the training staff.
"We'll keep evaluating it, and as soon as they do (clear Edwards), he'll be out there," Mangini said.
The "it" Mangini is referring to remains unclear. Neither the coach nor Edwards has offered any specifics on the injury, which is assumed to be the same one that sidelined the former Pro Bowler during the Browns' June minicamp. There have been reports that Edwards hurt his ankle while playing basketball.
On Saturday's opening day of camp, Edwards redirected questions about his injury to Mangini.
How were you hurt, Braylon?
"Talk to coach Mangini about that and see what he says," Edwards said.
Was it playing hoops?
"Talk to coach," he said.
"He has an injury," Mangini said.
Edwards was placed on the active non-football injury list last week, one day after he was late reporting to the Browns' first camp under Mangini and after failing his physical. Edwards had been told to arrive early with the team's rookies because of his injury, but the talented 26-year-old, who has had his share of problems during four seasons in Cleveland, was tardy.
Mangini is attempting to instill discipline in his team, prompting speculation that he's keeping Edwards out of practice as punishment. There also is the possibility the Browns could be trying to deal Edwards, whose name previously was mentioned in trade rumors with the New York Giants before April's draft.
Whatever Edwards' injury is, he hasn't been favoring his ankle or legs while working on the side with Cleveland's conditioning coaches. In addition to riding the bike, he has stepped through an agility ladder, worked on pass routes and run sprints.
Mangini said Edwards isn't allowed to wear full pads while on the injured list.
On Monday, Edwards posted a Facebook message that pointed to him returning to the practice field soon.
"Kid looked great over on the side today," he said. "... feeling really optimistic about my chance."
Edwards was receiving treatment and not available after The Associated Press requested a post-practice interview Tuesday.
Mangini's policy regarding player injuries is to say as little as possible. He explained his reason for secrecy as not wanting to give the opposing team a competitive advantage, which would be a viable explanation in Edwards' case if the season opener wasn't 40 days away.
"One of the things that we try to do in terms of injuries is not set any timetables because everything is different and it's important to take into account that aspect of it and there's also the competitive disadvantage," Mangini said. "The more that you have to (prepare) for someone, the better off that team is."
With tight end Kellen Winslow now a Tampa Bay Buccaneer, Edwards is the Browns' only true downfield threat, and they are counting on him to have a big season. After catching 80 passes for 1,293 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2007, Edwards' production fell to 55 catches for 873 yards and three TDs last season. His three 100-yard-plus games all came on national television, leading some to wonder if Edwards always gave his best.
The former No. 3 overall draft pick missed Cleveland's final three exhibition games last season after teammate Donte Stallworth accidentally spiked Edwards, who was running sprints in his socks. The lost practice time seemed to hurt him once the season started, and he finished with a league-high 16 drops.
Edwards is in the final year of his contract and knows he needs a bounce-back season.
"The big thing for me this year is just approach it with a solid attitude, a fresh start," he said Saturday. "It's a new regime. Even myself, going out there and having fun with the game and just doing things, controlling things, I can control. Not trying to worry about the other aspects, whatever else surrounds the game."
Right now, getting back on the field would be a good start.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press