Jets WR Edwards relieved his legal issues, Cleveland are behind him

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- New York Jets wide receiver Braylon Edwards returned to practice Wednesday after missing one day of workouts to make a court appearance in Cleveland.

Edwards was placed on probation after pleading no contest to misdemeanor aggravated disorderly conduct Tuesday. He said he was upset about having to miss practice, especially with the Jets preparing for Sunday's AFC divisional playoff game at San Diego.

"Finally that situation's behind me, so I'm able to forget about it," Edwards said. "I'm able to fully step out of Cleveland and do everything I can as a Jet. I'm happy I can relax and just play football."

Edwards initially pleaded not guilty in November to misdemeanor assault after he was accused of punching a friend of NBA star LeBron James on Oct. 5 outside a downtown Cleveland nightclub. The former Brown was traded to the Jets two days later.

Judge Michelle Earley gave Edwards a suspended 180-day jail sentence and fined him $1,000. His probation will be inactive, which means he won't have to report to a probation officer. As a result, Edwards said he'll be worry free the rest of the season.

"It clears me," Edwards said. "It would be a distraction if there was a case and now it's going to have a trial and I'd have to think about the trial. The fact of the matter that it's over, it's over. It's just that. Now I can focus 100 percent on football and giving all I can to the Jets."

The NFL will review the matter under its personal-conduct policy, but Edwards was optimistic that he wouldn't face disciplinary action from commissioner Roger Goodell. Edwards has no previous legal or disciplinary issues.

"At the end of the day, without going too in depth, I didn't even get a misdemeanor," Edwards said. "Roger Goodell has to make a decision, and if he does, I support whatever he does. Right now, he hasn't said anything, so I'm playing football."

Edwards believed there was a chance he wouldn't have to make the court appearance himself, but he received word late Monday night that he, in fact, needed to be in Cleveland. He took a 6 a.m. flight Tuesday to make the appearance, flew back later that afternoon and was able to catch up on the Jets' game plan for the Chargers.

Since being traded to the Jets, Edwards has 35 catches for 541 yards and four touchdowns. He had two catches for 15 yards during the 24-14 wild-card victory at Cincinnati last weekend, but he also had a long pass go through his hands in the end zone.

"It's just not the player I am," Edwards said. "It wouldn't bother me if I was an average player and it was a drop and it was like, 'Oh, well, he might catch the next one, he might not.' I know that's not how I practice. It's not the kind of guy I am, and that bothers me."

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Edwards has developed a reputation for making difficult and sometimes spectacular catches, then dropping easy ones. He said the inconsistencies are a product of playing with so many quarterbacks during the last few seasons and overthinking.

"I'm comfortable with where my game's at right now," said Edwards, who added that he doesn't need to prove anything to anyone. "I basically just need to go out there and play and stop thinking so much, especially with this one situation behind me."

Jets coach Rex Ryan half-kiddingly said he would tell Edwards to start catching balls with one hand during games.

"I'm going to stick to two," Edwards said with a smile. "I think that would be smart, it would be wise."

Edwards is a potential free agent after this season and could be playing for a big deal to remain in New York.

I don't see myself wanting to go anywhere else," he said. "I'd like to be a Jet for the rest of my years."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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