Edwards critical of teammate's hit on Bengals' Chad Johnson
November 23, 2006 8:39pm CST
Apparently, Browns safety Brian Russell's jolting hit on Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson 10 weeks ago didn't just ring "Ocho Cinco's" bell. It dinged Braylon Edwards, too. Edwards questioned the need for his teammate's bone-jarring blow to Johnson -- and other shots on wide receivers -- in the final minutes of the Browns' 34-17 loss at Cincinnati on Sept. 17. After a pass intended for him was intercepted by Browns cornerback Leigh Bodden, Johnson had his helmet blasted off and his chin split open by the hard hit from Russell, who was not penalized for the shot. Johnson later joked about the vicious tackle, and he even complimented Russell for having "a great story to tell his grandkids." Edwards, however, didn't find Russell's knockout of Johnson particularly funny. The opinionated second-year wideout thinks wide receivers in general have become targets, and showed support for his Cincinnati counterpart as the Bengals (5-5) and Browns (3-7) prepared for Sunday's game. "That's bull," Edwards said Wednesday. "Obviously, I won't say anything to Brian because he didn't hit me and the guy (Chad) is on the opposite team and I'm not taking up for that guy. But if you look at the nature of the game, they (defensive backs) always complain when we put our hands on them or cut block. "But yet you have a play like that where Chad Johnson clearly wasn't going to catch the pass, Leigh Bodden already intercepted it and Brian just leveled him. You see it time and time again. It's a rough game and we choose to play it, so it comes with the territory. "But at the same time, protect the players. We're trying to do the same thing those guys are." Edwards also said a hit on Bengals wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh by San Diego Chargers safety Terrence Kiel was borderline. "I don't see the need for those two plays," he said. "I really don't." Edwards' comments may have prompted bulletin-board material -- in his own locker room. Russell was not available to the media following the rant by Edwards, who also challenged Cleveland's play-calling on Wednesday. Earlier, Russell dismissed his hit on Johnson as "part of football." "I'm going to try to hit anybody I get a chance to, if it's a clean shot," Russell said. "If I get a chance to hit somebody this week it's going to happen." On a conference call with Cleveland's media, Johnson dodged any questions about the hit that left one of the NFL's fastest players groggy and bloody. "It's football," said Johnson. "I don't care about hits. It's going to happen. It's part of the game." Johnson had six catches for 78 yards and a touchdown in Cincinnati's win earlier this season over the Browns, who need to make sure they keep tabs on the fleet-footed wideout. Cleveland will keep one of its safeties close to Johnson, hoping that by double-teaming him the Browns can make Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer throw elsewhere. Johnson leads the NFL with 920 receiving yards and he's shooting for his fourth straight yardage title, which would be a league first. In the past two weeks, he has picked up 450 yards -- the league's highest two-game total since 1970. The Browns may try to get physical with Johnson, but that can be tricky since he can slip by and make a big play. Also, it can be dangerous to play too far off Johnson. "We have to keep the integrity of the defense together even though we are facing Chad," Browns coach Romeo Crennel said. "We have to be more aware of where he is and the route he is running. If we need help, we have to make sure we are providing that. "It's a fine line because you know if he's coming your way, the ball is probably following him. You might need to take a couple steps back so he doesn't run past you."