Published: Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Comeback by Baxter falls short for Browns
The cornerback's valiant try to play again ended on the injured reserve list.
CLEVELAND (AP) Gary Baxter's courageous, unexpected comeback from two serious knee injuries ended for this season when the cornerback was placed on injured reserve by the Cleveland Browns Tuesday.
Baxter tore both patellar tendons on the same play last season. He was given long odds of getting back on the field no player in the NFL has ever come back and been productive after tearing the tendons but the 29-year-old startled doctors and made Cleveland's roster this summer.
However, Baxter was not activated for any of the Browns' first six games and when he failed to make enough significant progress to help them this season, the Browns finally decided to place him on IR.
"Gary has put everything he's got into this comeback," Browns general manager Phil Savage said in a statement. "He made great strides, but just hasn't been able to reach the 100 percent level needed to play in the NFL. We feel he is headed in the right direction and hopeful he will return by next season."
Baxter couldn't walk for weeks after getting hurt, and spent two months at the Cleveland Clinic. But he vowed to "make history" and surprised everyone by joining the Browns in time for training camp in July.
His goal was to play this season.
"I have been working hard for the past year to recover from my injuries, but unfortunately at this time I'm not at a level where I can be a full-time contributor to my team," Baxter said. "Because of that, I don't want to continue to take up a roster spot that can be filled by someone who can help the team win right now."
"I've made significant progress, much more than anyone thought I ever would. Still, I'm extremely disappointed I didn't make it on the field this year and I plan to use this as motivation to get back on the field next year. I'm getting closer to that goal each week."
Baxter signed a six-year, $30 million free-agent deal with the Browns in 2005. He had played the previous four seasons with Baltimore and had started 46 of 48 games over a three-year span for the Ravens before coming to Cleveland.
A concussion in the preseason forced him out of the Browns' season opener in 2005. He played in Cleveland's next five games before a season-ending injury to his pectoral muscle.
Baxter played in three games last season before the freakish injuries to his knees on Oct. 22 while defending a pass in a game against the Denver Broncos.