Cleveland loses TE Winslow for season

Five catches. Two games. Two surgeries. Hardly the numbers Kellen Winslow Jr. expected as a rookie.

Winslow underwent another operation on his broken right leg yesterday, ending the tight end’s first NFL season after just two games and dealing the Cleveland Browns another early-season blow.

The first-round draft pick, who broke his fibula in a Sept. 19 game at Dallas and had surgery two days later, will have ligaments stabilized during the latest procedure.

Team physician Anthony Miniaci will do the surgery at the Cleveland Clinic.

“Our No. 1 concern is Kellen’s health and his long-term contribution to the Cleveland Browns,” coach Butch Davis said in a statement Tuesday. “We know he will approach his rehabilitation with the same determination that he shows on the football field and look forward to his return for the 2005 season.”

Winslow fractured his fibula — the outer bone in his lower leg — while scrambling to recover an onside kick in the final seconds of the Browns’ 19-12 loss to the Cowboys.

Last week, the No. 6 overall selection in this year’s draft had screws and plates inserted to stabilize the fracture that was clean through the bone.

Following the surgery, Davis reported that doctors found no ligament damage and said there was a good chance Winslow would be back sometime in November.

But after evaluating Winslow, team doctors decided he needed more surgery.

“Kellen needs a stabilization of his syndesmosis (a sprain of the high ankle ligaments) in order to prevent further laxity,” head trainer Mike Colello said.

An injury such as Winslow’s can sometimes require additional surgery.

Following a trauma to the lower leg or ankle, the syndesmotic joint can become unsteady and painful, requiring an invasive procedure to allow the ligaments to heal properly.

Not only will Winslow not play again for the Browns in 2004, but he stands to lose a $5.3 million one-time bonus. As part of the six-year, $40 million contract he signed in August, Winslow had to participate in 35 percent of Cleveland’s plays this season to reach an incentive to trigger the bonus.

The announcement that Winslow needs more surgery is yet another blow to the battered Browns (1-2), who have lost eight starters to injury in the season’s first three weeks.

In addition to Winslow, defensive end Courtney Brown and linebacker Ben Taylor are out for the year with injuries. Taylor was placed on injured reserve Tuesday after having a tendon in his chest reattached by Miniaci.

Although Winslow’s first season as a pro was short, it was very eventful.

The Browns traded up one spot in April’s draft to get the former University of Miami All-American. Winslow made an immediate impression in mini-camp, wowing Cleveland’s veteran players and coaching staff with his skills.