In a season filled with discontent, even New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez was able to crack a smile this week when former No. 1 receiving target and close friend Braylon Edwards was claimed off waivers and back in green and white.
"It's great news," admitted Sanchez. "It's exciting to have somebody like that back and we'll work him in slowly and hopefully get him ready to play."
The Sanchez-Edwards connection was an integral part of the Jets' consecutive runs to AFC Championship games in 2009 and 2010. With the Jets in dire need of veteran receiving help, Edwards brings experience and camaraderie to a locker room that came apart at the seams down the stretch of last season.
"It means a lot to be back," said Edwards of returning to New York. "I had some great times here. I feel like I left a small part of myself here when I left. To be back is great. I think I can come back and just provide a little bit of a veteran leadership."
In quite a bizarre twist, New York's front office acquired Edwards barely a week after the eight year veteran bashed the Jets' organization referring to the management team as ‘idiots' via his twitter account.
"No, I think they know he was just sticking up for me, he loves being here and we're good friends off the field too, so he was doing his best to help out, I guess," said Sanchez regarding Edwards' negative comments about the Jets' front office.
While the former University of Michigan standout would later apologize for his twitter outburst, he was shocked when the Jets brought him back this week in light of his public criticism of the team.
"I already thought there was no way that the Jets were interested," reflected Edwards. "I figured with last year's season and kind of how it went and this offseason, me rehabbing and getting after it and putting it out there on Twitter how good rehab was going, to not get a phone call or an invite to come in and work out and see what was going on, that was when I just mentally (thought), ‘Alright, it's not going to happen. Let's move on and get myself prepared for other situations.' That was kind of when I was done with it. After the tweet, it was like, ‘Yeah I burnt that bridge.' "
Evidently general manager Mike Tannenbaum and head coach Rex Ryan weren't the least bit offended by Edwards' remarks, welcoming him back with open arms.
"One thing about being here and like I said, the relationship that we developed here is that we're all kind of goofy amongst each other," mentioned Edwards of his rapport with Jets' teammates and management. "Everybody has a weird, funny or cool interaction. There actually wasn't a moment of awkwardness. It could have been, but the kind of relationship that we developed while I was here, is being open."
With Edwards hobbled by a nagging hamstring injury that forced the Seattle Seahawks to release him last week, former head coach Pete Carroll told reporters this week that he believes injury might be long-term in nature. As the Jets prepare to do battle on Monday Night against the Tennessee Titans in the Music City, Edwards appeared optimistic at his chances of returning to the gridiron with Gang Green.
"I don't think Pete has an M.D., so no. I'm just joking," quipped Edwards about Carroll's diagnosis of his injury. "That was what they thought. That was his opinion and everybody is entitled to their (opinion). The Jets have a different opinion, so we're moving based off of our doctors more so, not the coach and not myself. We're moving off the doctors and the doctors are giving me kind of a blueprint on what we should do and how we should carry out the progression."