Two-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman LeCharles Bentley, who hasn't participated in a full-scale practice for the Cleveland Browns since tearing the patella tendon of his left knee in the first training camp practice of 2006, will have his potential return to the field delayed until at least October.
In a move that was hardly unanticipated, the Browns on Tuesday placed Bentley on the NFL's inactive physically unable to perform (PUP) list.
"He's disappointed, but because we sat down and we talked about it -- he's been in my office every week -- he appreciates my
concern," coach Romeo Crennel said according to The Associated Press. "I've told him all along I want the best for him."
By definition, Bentley must sit out the first six weeks of the season. After that, there is a three-week window in which he can begin practicing. Once a player returns to practice, his team has three weeks in which to decide whether to transfer him to the active roster or have him spend the rest of the year on the physically unable to perform list.
"During that window in October, we can get him out on the field
and see where he's at," Crennel said.
Bentley, 27, has had to make remarkable progress just to get to the point in his recovery where he has been able to do some individual drills during training camp this summer. The former New Orleans Saints star, signed by the Browns as an unrestricted free agent in 2006, has undergone four operations on his left knee.
Because of a staph infection that developed in the knee after the initial surgery to repair the torn patella tendon, doctors at one point considered amputating his leg.
Earlier this spring, Bentley was cleared to practice by Dr. Russell Warren, the New York Giants' team physician who performed two of the surgeries on him. But when Bentley reported to camp, Cleveland doctors performed an MRI exam and determined that he needed more time to rehabilitate.
By his own admission, Bentley's knee is only about 70 percent recovered, and he acknowledged a few weeks ago that beginning the season on the PUP list was a very strong possibility.
One of the biggest signings of the 2006 free agency period, Bentley's contract was for six years at $36 million, and included $12.5 million in guarantees.
Landing the highly regarded Bentley, who made one Pro Bowl appearance as a guard and another at center, was a huge acquisition at the time for the Browns, who wanted more bulk and power on the interior of their offensive line. Bentley was to have played center in Cleveland, his hometown.
Bentley was the Saints' second-round pick in the 2002 draft. The former Ohio State star began his career at guard and then moved to center in 2004. In four seasons with the Saints, he played in 57 games, all as a starter. He has yet to play a snap for the Browns.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.