Browns training camp opened. LeCharles Bentley ruptured his patellar tendon on the first contact drill. In that instant, the 2006 Browns season was wasted. The psychological blow of watching the team's top free agent signing leave the field in a cart was too much to withstand.
Result: The Browns went 4-12. The job security of Charlie Frye and Romeo Crennel started to dissolve. The Browns began camp as a young team starting to turn the corner toward respectability, but were thrown back into a state of disarray.
All in the time it took for Bentley to yell "No!", grab his knee and hit the ground.
July 27, 2007:
Browns training camp opens. Eric Steinbach and Joe Thomas are the latest attempt to stabilize the offensive line. Thomas and cornerback Eric Wright signed contracts yesterday, leaving Brady Quinn as the only unsigned draft pick.
Crennel has possibly one month of the regular season to show that he can improve this team dramatically, or he might lose his job.
Bentley has weathered a yearlong storm no one would want to face. Four surgeries on his badly-damaged knee, with a fifth scheduled but not performed. Two staph infections, which reached leg-threatening and life-threatening proportions. This month, he was cleared to play football in a day many thought would never come.
His ability to help the team is still questionable, and according to The Plain Dealer, Bentley might be viewed by Browns management as something of a mismatched part. GM Phil Savage hasn't said much publicly about Bentley's comeback attempt, and it appears he never received a playbook to study the schemes of new offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski.
Bentley will start camp on the active/physically unable to perform list, along with Gary Baxter, who is recovering from a patellar tendon rupture in each knee, and Kellen Winslow Jr., who is recovering from microfracture surgery on his knee. All three are hoping to be ready in time for the season opener Sept. 9 against the arch-rival Steelers.
This afternoon, we find out if the past 12 months have changed anything for Cleveland's most unfortunate sports franchise, or if the beat goes on.
If anyone leaves the field in the back of a cart today, we'll likely have our answer.