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Club still mum on Winslow's injuries

BEREA, Ohio -- Ten days after injuring his knee in a
motorcycle crash, Kellen Winslow Jr. took the first ginger step
toward repairing an NFL career that barely got started.

While Winslow's return to the field for the Cleveland Browns is
still in question, the tight end visited the team's headquarters to
start rehab on his injured right knee Wednesday, less than 24 hours
after his release from the hospital.

"He was happy to be here," Browns coach Romeo Crennel said.
"He was in pretty good spirits."

Winslow sustained unspecified injuries in a May 1 accident when
he crashed his high-powered motorcycle into a raised parking lot
curb at 35 mph. The Browns are most concerned about Winslow's knee,
which will be re-examined in 7-10 days when swelling subsides, team
president John Collins said.

The club said Winslow did not have any surgery during his
hospital stay.

Respecting the wishes of Winslow's family and abiding by privacy
laws, the Browns have not disclosed any specifics of what happened
to their 21-year-old star, who missed 14 games last season as a
rookie with a broken leg.

However, it's clear from what the Browns are permitted to
discuss that Winslow is lucky to be alive.

"He easily could have been killed," general manager Phil
Savage said.

Collins said it's too early to determine if Winslow, the club's
first-round pick in the 2004 draft, will play this season. But
despite a public outcry from outraged Cleveland fans who would like
to see the team cut Winslow for breaking his contract, the Browns
have no plans to release him.

"Absolutely not," Savage said. "We need him and we want
him."

Winslow walked out of the Cleveland Clinic on Tuesday with the
aid of crutches, unable to put any pressure on his wrapped right
leg. He was assisted into an awaiting SUV and taken to his home in
suburban Westlake.

Before Wednesday, the Browns had been very vague about Winslow's
accident. They had not provided an update on his status since
releasing a statement on May 4 that said he was recovering from
internal injuries.

By riding the motorcycle, Winslow violated a clause in his
contract that stipulates he is not to engage in dangerous
activities. The Browns have already paid him $5.05 million in bonus
money over the past two seasons and could require Winslow to return
some or all of it if he can't play.

"The contract is clear about an injury resulting from hazardous
activities," Collins said. "It doesn't preclude anybody from
doing those activities. It just protects the club in case somebody
is injured or can't perform."

With rumors running rampant about the nature of Winslow's
injuries and his future, Collins was asked if the former Miami
star's career could be over.

"I don't think there is any indication that this is
career-ending," Collins said.

Winslow's decision to ride the recently purchased motorcycle has
been viewed as reckless and irresponsible -- a brazen act for
someone with so much to lose. But despite the team's best attempts,
Crennel said it's impossible to regulate what players do with their
free time.

"We can't hold these guys' hands 24 hours a day," he said.
"We've got 53 of them. We have to hope that they're going to make
sound, logical choices. We will try and continue to educate and
counsel them about their choices on and off the field."

While they're disappointed with Winslow's judgment, the Browns
are relieved he wasn't hurt worse. Savage didn't have a sense of
the severity of Winslow's injuries until he visited the hospital.

"It was quite a picture when Romeo and I went to visit him,"
he said. "You go into the intensive care unit and you see people
clinging to life with hoses and wires and people on death's door,
and here's this stallion of an athlete laying in the bed next to
these people.

"We're thankful that he was here this morning and hopeful that
he will be able to make a recovery in due time."

Crennel said Winslow "told me he was sorry about it."