Star Browns rookie has broken fibula

Updated: September 21, 2004, 4:22 PM ET
Associated Press

CLEVELAND -- Kellen Winslow Jr. will miss at least two months with a broken right leg, and the Cleveland Browns might keep the rookie tight end out for the rest of the season.

Winslow broke his fibula -- a bone in his lower leg -- trying to recover an onside kick late in Sunday's 19-12 loss at Dallas.

Kellen Winslow
Tight End
Cleveland Browns
Rec Yds TD Avg Long YAC
5 50 0 10.0 21 8

The first-round draft pick will have surgery Tuesday and might need screws and plates inserted in the leg, Browns trainer Mike Colello said Monday.

The team expects Winslow to make a full recovery in eight to 10 weeks, but coach Butch Davis said the team has considered placing him on injured reserve.

Another injured tight end, Steve Heiden, is expected to return to practice this week.

In addition, the Browns are bracing for possibly bad news on defensive end Courtney Brown, who suffered a mid-foot sprain -- the latest injury for the former No. 1 overall draft pick.

Colello, who joined Davis at his weekly news conference because of the "unusual circumstances" after Sunday's loss, said the team was awaiting word on Brown from a foot and ankle specialist.

The former Penn State star has had a promising NFL career spoiled by injuries. Brown missed the ends of the past two seasons with injuries and sat out 11 games in 2001 after hurting his right knee and left ankle.

The Browns had four other starters hurt Sunday.

Defensive tackle Gerard Warren re-aggravated a chest injury and will miss two to four weeks; cornerback Daylon McCutcheon broke the middle finger on his left hand and might need surgery; offensive tackle Ryan Tucker strained his right quadriceps and will be out two to four weeks; and left guard Paul Zukauskas reinjured a knee ligament that kept him out of last season's finale.

Winslow was hurt while diving to recover an onside kick in the final seconds. As Winslow went after the ball, his legs got caught up in a pile with teammates Barry Gardner and Eric Westmoreland.

Davis defended himself against criticism that Winslow shouldn't have been on the field during such a risky play.

"That would be tantamount to quitting," he said. "You're putting the best people you have out there."

After a long training camp holdout and often contentious negotiations with the Browns, Winslow signed a six-year contract that could be worth $40 million.

Early reviews were overwhelmingly positive for the 6-foot-4, 250-pounder, who was expected to be a major contributor to the Browns' offense and special teams this season.

The No. 6 overall pick, Winslow had four catches for 39 yards in the season-opening win over Baltimore. And although he had just one reception for 11 yards against Dallas, Winslow was open several times but quarterback Jeff Garcia either didn't see him or overthrew the former University of Miami star.

With both Winslow and Heiden hurt, Davis said the Browns have considered re-signing Chad Mustard, who played in 10 games last season and was in camp with Cleveland this summer but was released before Week 1.

Mustard, who had four catches for 29 yards in 2003, was in the Browns' locker room Monday.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press