Jets looking for Edwards to have breakout season

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By Roderick Boone

Newsday

(MCT)

CORTLAND, N.Y. - Santonio Holmes sees all of Braylon Edwards' gifts.

The big frame. The downfield speed. The uncanny ability to separate from the defender. The vertical leaping skills fit for an NBA baller, which give him the advantage going up for jump balls against smaller opponents.

Holmes believes, as do many other observers like Rex Ryan, that with all Edwards has to offer, there's no way he shouldn't be among the league's upper crust of wide receivers. Beard or no beard.

"I told Rex that I think he can be a No. 1 receiver in the NFL every year," Holmes said. "There were some mechanics that I saw that he can work on and hopefully, he's willing to learn from me and willing to take advice from myself and Jerricho (Cotchery). And I think that's only going to make him better."

This is coming from an Ohio State guy talking about a Michigan man, no less. But take it from Henry Ellard as well. He's in complete agreement with Holmes, believing Edwards, the sixth-year receiver who's entering his second season with the Jets, ought to be an unstoppable force.

"Without a doubt," the wide receivers coach said. "That's something we talk about and it comes down to the time you put in on the practice field, and doing what you do on the practice field and carrying it into a game situation. The consistency of doing it day-in and day-out, that's what we are working toward."

Edwards, sporting a bushy beard that would make Santa Claus proud, figures to have a better 2010 campaign now that he's with the Jets from the outset of training camp. They acquired the Browns' former first-round pick from Cleveland on Oct. 7 and Edwards ended up leading the team with four receiving touchdowns and was second behind Cotchery with 541 receiving yards.

Still, it's not the catches people seem to remember most; it's those drops. He had five a season ago, according to Stats LLC, and perhaps the most memorable one was the ball he lost in the lights Dec. 3 in Toronto against Buffalo, a play where he was wide open and all he had to do was reel it in for an easy catch-and-run touchdown.

Edwards has had problems with over-the-shoulder grabs in the past, in part he says, because of torn ligaments suffered during his junior and senior years at Michigan.

"If you look at my right hand, this pinkie is destroyed, my middle finger is going the wrong way," Edwards said. "I've broke that twice versus my left hand, which is fine. So when I'm catching balls over my right shoulder, the left hand is stronger and it's easier, versus when I'm catching balls with my right hand. I'm trying to use both hands more so."

Ellard has been in Edwards' ear not only about concentrating on the over-the-shoulder grabs, but he's also imploring him to improve his route running. He said Edwards caught six "dig" routes in 2009 and was drilled immediately on each, a byproduct that he's not running his route deep enough.

So with a few tweaks here and there, Edwards might be able to have that breakout season everyone is waiting for while helping the Jets reach their ultimate goal.

"All I care about is winning a championship," Edwards said. "I think winning a championship would be the culmination of so many things that have gone on in my career and my life. That's all I aim for. I aim for a championship, and aim to win a title and aim to be on the best team there is."

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