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Edwards connects drops to lack of opportunities

Braylon Edwards #17 of the New York Jets

Braylon Edwards #17 of the New York Jets drops a pass in the endzone against Leon Hall #29 of the Cincinnati Bengals. (January 9, 2010) Credit: Getty Images

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Braylon Edwards didn't exactly say the six infamous words in the title of Keyshawn Johnson's controversial book that chronicled his rookie season.

Edwards didn't reference "Just Give Me the Damn Ball,'' but he thinks there's a good reason he gets a bit tight at times and doesn't come up with the sure, easy grab as much as he should: lack of opportunities. In other words, Edwards, who's averaging 2.8 catches a game as a Jet, is not seeing the ball enough and presses when he does.

"It just -- when you are only getting like two chances a game," Edwards said Wednesday. "What can you do? Everybody talks about the dominant receivers. Well, the dominant receivers have been in consistent situations - same quarterback, same offense. The go-to guy, they are getting 12, 14 looks a game. Out of those 12, 14 looks, they are going to catch eight to 10. If they drop one, so what? You don't know about it because they have 10 other catches going on.

"But when you're getting two attempts and you drop one, it's huge, especially if it is a touchdown attempt. For us, it's just more so staying in the game, having fun in the run and when the ball does come to you, just make a play. Stop thinking so much."

At least Edwards doesn't have to think about a lingering legal issue anymore. He pleaded no contest to aggravated disorderly conduct Tuesday in Cleveland Municipal Court after initially facing an aggravated assault charge for allegedly punching club promoter Edward Givens in the face outside a nightclub at 2:30 a.m. Oct. 5.

Edwards was placed on probation, received a suspended 180-day jail sentence and was fined $1,000.

"It clears me," he said. "There would be a distraction if there was a case, and now it's going to have a trial and you think about the trial. But the fact of the matter is that it's over, it's over. So now I can just focus 100 percent on football and giving all I can to the Jets."

Edwards came here in October with a reputation for dropping passes in big spots, and he's had three glaring drops over the last six games, all potential touchdowns. He lost the ball in the Rogers Centre lights against the Bills, mistimed a leap on what should've been a 48-yard score in the regular-season finale, and botched a potential 41-yard bomb Saturday.

"It's got to bother him, people talking about you can't catch and you're a receiver," good friend Kerry Rhodes said. "That's his job. Right now, he's pressing. He's not getting a lot of balls, so he thinks when the ball is there, he has to make a big play or he has to make the great catch. He's pressing a little bit. But I've just talked to him already. I've told him to calm down and the ball is going to come to you. You're going to make plays.

"He's going to get open, so just calm down.''

Edwards' explanation for his drops could be perceived as a cop-out, but he said he's never made excuses for them.

"Everybody has always asked me about drops and I've said I dropped the ball and I've got to do a better job of catching the ball, focusing, reeling it in," he said. "I've always made the first statement of saying, 'It doesn't matter what's going on. I have to make that catch.' I've never blamed Mark [Sanchez] for a pass. I've never blamed Derek Anderson or Brady Quinn. I've always owned up to my drops.

"I don't make excuses. There have been plays I can make."

But he thinks he's been getting too caught up in trying to silence the skeptics and vowed he's done with that.

"I have nothing to prove to nobody," he said. "I think the last year, I've been caught up in trying to prove myself, to [the media] or players or people around the league, trying to prove what I am when I don't have to prove anything. I know who I am. I've just got to go out there and be that guy as opposed to trying to prove that that's me."

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