CLEVELAND, OH - Browns center LeCharles Bentley was cleared by his surgeon to return to the playing field on Monday, another major step in his unexpected comeback from a career-threatening knee injury.
"I passed it," Bentley said excitedly on the phone from New York. "I'm good to go."More >>
CLEVELAND (AP) - The Cleveland Browns signed three rookies to four-year contracts on Sunday, just not the big three.
With the opening of training camp a few days away, the club has not yet reached deals with offensive tackle Joe Thomas and quarterback Brady Quinn - both first-round picks - or cornerback Eric Wright, a second-rounder expected to compete for a starting job.
The team did sign defensive back Brandon McDonald, defensive end Melila Purcell and wide receiver Syndric Steptoe.
The team's rookies begin an orientation program on Monday with veterans reporting later in the week. The team's first official training camp practice is Friday.
The Browns are hoping to have both Thomas, the No. 3 overall pick, and Quinn (No. 22) in camp on time. However, with few first-round picks signed, and because agents typically base rookie contracts on previous ones at the same draft spot, Thomas and Quinn both could be out for some time.
Thomas' case is unique because the third pick in the past three drafts has been a position player - wide receivers Larry Fitzgerald, Braylon Edwards and quarterback Vince Young - and the Browns are reluctant to give a tackle $15 million or more in guaranteed money.
Signing Quinn, too, could be a challenge. The Browns traded two draft picks, including one in the first round next year, to get the former Notre Dame QB, who tumbled in the first round after he was expected to go in the top 10.
Quinn's agent, Tom Condon, will presumably argue that his client is worthy of Top 10 money, and that because the Browns had him rated high on their draft board, they should pay him like a top pick.
Also, center LeCharles Bentley said he will undergo a physical in New York on Monday, a checkup he hopes will allow him to get back on the field after suffering a career-threatening knee injury last summer.
Bentley tore his patellar tendon on the first contact play of training camp in 2006, and then underwent four operations, two surgeries to clean out a staph infection that nearly cost him his leg.
Bentley will visit Dr. Joseph Warren, the New York Giants' team physician, who cleaned out the tendon damaged by the staph infection in November. If he is cleared to play, Bentley, who visited Cleveland's training facility last week, will have to pass a team physical before he's allowed on the field.