CLEVELAND -- Browns center LeCharles Bentley, attempting a comeback from a career-threatening knee injury, stopped going to the Cleveland Clinic after two outside surgeons told him he had an infection and needed an immediate fourth knee surgery, a newspaper reported Sunday.
Bentley's first season with the Browns ended on his first full-contact play in training camp last summer when he tore the patellar tendon in his left knee.
He had his first surgery the day after the injury in late July 2006, and then two more as a staph infection attacked the knee. He was released from the Clinic in mid-October with a small incision that was draining fluid.
The Clinic said in a statement that doctors felt the incision might close on its own, or could require further surgery after Bentley healed more, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reported.
Bentley sought a second opinion, flying to New York to see Dr. Russell Warren, the team physician for the New York Giants, and also stopped going to his Clinic appointments, the newspaper said.
Warren found that Bentley's knee was still infected and needed another surgery right away, according to Bentley and his agent Jonathan Feinsod. A third doctor, Dr. James Andrews of Birmingham, Ala., also examined Bentley and agreed with Warren, said Bentley's financial adviser, Mark Callahan, who attended Bentley's appointment with Andrews.
The Clinic said in a statement that Andrews' evaluation was consistent with recommendations made by Clinic doctors: that Bentley should continue rehabilitation and wait to see if surgery was necessary.
Andrews declined to comment.
Warren performed the surgery in November, Bentley's fourth since last summer's injury. He considered a fifth operation in early June, but after seeing the two-time Pro Bowler's improvement in May, decided against it.
After returning home from the fourth surgery, Bentley's follow up treatment was done at University Hospitals of Cleveland.
Bentley returned to the Browns' training camp, but has only been attending meetings and watching drills from the sidelines. He's due for a team physical at the end of the month which could help determine whether he'll play for the team again.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press