NEWS

Browns players struggling with staph

Steve Doerschuk

It isn’t a secret any more. Kellen Winslow Jr.’s mystery illness has been traced to the dreaded “s” word.

Head Coach Romeo Crennel confirmed that the Pro Bowl tight end missed the recent Monday night game with a staph infection. That gave players a green light to talk about it after a period when Winslow’s condition was Berea's secret of the year.

“Guys talk about it, because it is on a lot of people’s minds,” said left tackle Joe Thomas, who like Winslow is a former high first-round draft pick. “I can’t speak for other people, but personally I don’t worry about it.

“What we can know is what medical people will tell us. It’s not like they’ll know that, ‘Oh, that carpet over there has staph. Watch out.’ A lot of times teams get it, have outbreaks, and take care of it. I don’t think anybody really worries about it. Personally, I don’t.”

Union rep Darnell Dinkins, a tight end who caught a touchdown pass in Winslow’s absence against the Giants, said he will not ask the players’ union to get involved in policing the Browns’ staph problem.

Dinkins said he believes the team has taken “a proactive approach as far as making sure we’re all protected.

“We have all kind of cleaners and sanitizers around here to make sure we’re protected. It’s really hard to understand where the staph is coming from ... there’s all kind of strains. We need to take a proactive approach, like I believe the Browns have been doing.”

Crennel basically said the Browns are doing all they can do to address the staph issue.

Browns who have come down with staph infections include the top free agency pick-up in 2006, LeCharles Bentley, the No. 3 overall pick of the 2005 draft, Braylon Edwards, and the No. 6 overall pick from the 2004 draft, Winslow.

General Manager Phil Savage isn’t commenting on Winslow’s staph infection or the tight end’s sharp comments after the Washington game.

Winslow said he felt like “a piece of meat,” partly because Savage hadn’t reached out to him enough.

Joe Jurevicius, a wide receiver recovering from staph complications, isn’t close to playing, Savage told a Canton Browns Backers group last week.

“I don’t think he’ll be playing any time soon,” Savage said. “Joe has had a really tough go of it.”

Winslow was in the locker room at the start of Monday’s interview period, but he was walking out while media members were filing in. Winslow slapped WTAM reporter Andre Knott on the back and hurried away.

Dinkins talked from his locker stall, which is next to Winslow’s.

“Anybody who has staph ... you’re talking about your life,” Dinkins said. “It’s bigger than football, bigger than a game. Other than that, Kellen is a good friend of mine.

“You want to make sure he is protected and that he is healthy. I’m glad he’s healthy. I hope we can contain the issue.”

Winslow made waves at Washington with the remarks about Savage. Crennel was disappointed Winslow went public.

“If he has an issue, he should address it with the organization and not the media,” Crennel said. “I don’t know how much you gain by addressing it to the media.”

Will Winslow be disciplined?

“Whatever I’m gonna do, I’m not gonna broadcast it to the media,” Crennel said.

Crennel seemed to indicate Winslow will remain a vital player on the 2008 Browns.

“I think Kellen has a good relationship with this organization,” Crennel said. “I think Kellen likes the players on this team. I think he likes this team.”

Joshua Cribbs, whose locker is near Winslow’s, speculated on why Winslow went public Sunday night.

“Sometimes a loss will do that to you ... make you feel insignificant, not important. Maybe that’s the problem. Who knows?” Cribbs said. “I can’t speak for others. I just know, whenever he needs me, I’ll be there, if he wants to call and talk to me.”

The Repository