Randle El was a star high school centerfielder in Chicago and was the Cubs' 14th-round pick in 1997. But he attended Indiana on a football scholarship, a decision that wasn't entirely his. "Mom said no to baseball," says Randle El. "Sometimes when I watch the Cubs, I say, 'I could be playing right there, in centerfield.' One thing would have been tough: hitting the curveball. But I could track that ball down in centerfield."
He proved that at Pittsburgh's training camp this summer. The Steelers had enough faith in the athletic ability of the 5'9", 191-pound Randle El that they chose him in the second round of April's draft, intending to turn the former college quarterback into a wide receiver. He tore up training camp, earning the slot receiver job and forcing the trade of former first-round wideout Troy Edwards to St. Louis last week.
Randle El scored three preseason touchdowns, one on a 32-yard reverse at Washington. He was fluid and natural catching the ball, making the hardest parts of the receiving game—such as adjusting on the deep ball when it's thrown over the wrong shoulder—seem simple. "Once I made up my mind to be a wide receiver, it was easy," he says.
He gives the Steelers two former college quarterbacks—Hines Ward is the other—whom offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey can use to wreak havoc on defenses. "You watch," said tight end Mark Bruener. "One day you'll see Hines, Antwaan and Kordell [Stewart] lined up in the backfield at the same time. The defense will have no clue how to play against that."
Robert Edwards's Comeback
A Fish Back In Water
Forty-three months. That's how long it's been since former New England running back Robert Edwards leaped to make a play in a beach football game in Hawaii and landed awkwardly on his left leg, tearing all the knee ligaments, stretching a nerve and slicing the artery that supplies blood to the lower leg. While in recovery the doctor told him, "If you had been 15 minutes later getting to the hospital, I would have had to amputate your leg." Football was out of the question.
Last Sunday, after three major surgeries and two aborted comebacks with New England, Edwards made it back to the NFL. He survived Miami's final cut on Sunday and will be a backup running back and special teams player. Lest you think this is some charity case, check the video from Miami's final preseason game, when it took three Bears to corral Edwards after a short run.
"My story is an illustration of believing that miracles do happen," says Edwards. "You can't let negative thoughts cloud what you do. There were plenty of times when I woke up in the morning and thought, Why am I doing this? I have no chance of playing. But I just refused to believe that I would fail."
When he discovered Sunday afternoon that he had made the Dolphins' roster, Edwards did not celebrate. "I can't let it end here," he said. "Just making the team can't be the end of this story. I can still be a great back in this league."
Curtis Martin's Big Payday
Just Don't Take It All to the Bank