BILLINGS -- Dwan Edwards used the word “probably” and moments later clarified that his playing career in the NFL is over.
“I haven’t done anything official. That’s not my style,” Edwards said. “But I’m pretty sure I’m done.”
Edwards was in Billings on Saturday putting on a youth camp at Wendy’s Field at Daylis Stadium for boys and girls going into fifth through eighth grades. This marked the seventh year of the Dwan Edwards Elite Football Camp.
It may continue, Edwards said, but he insists he’s played his final down in the NFL.
Edwards, who is from Columbus, was a member of Carolina Panthers last season. If his career is over, his final game came in the Super Bowl loss in February to the Denver Broncos.
“I’m probably done,” Edwards said following the camp that drew a couple hundred kids. “For the most part, I’m pretty excited about hanging it up and seeing what’s next. I’ve had an amazing journey and the people in Montana have been amazing.”
Edwards spent 12 seasons in the NFL, also playing for the Baltimore Ravens and Buffalo Bills. He was selected in the second round, 51st overall, by the Ravens in the 2004 NFL Draft out of Oregon State.
With the Panthers last season, Edwards played in 14 games and finished with one sack. The 6-foot-3, 305-pound defensive lineman had 19½ in his career, 14 coming during his four seasons in Carolina.
“I’ve played 12 years and the average is about three,” said Edwards, who was a two-time all-Pac 10 Conference selection at Oregon State. “To get to play that long has been a blessing.”
Edwards, 35, was released by the Panthers in March, less than a month after the Super Bowl. He had signed a two-year contract extension worth $4 million just a year earlier.
“Dwan represents what we look for in defensive tackles,” Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman said in a statement upon his release. “He was smart, tough, played with discipline and was team-oriented. His contributions played a key role in what we are building here and his leadership will be missed. We wish him the best.”
The Panthers, of course, went 15-1 during the regular season last year, advancing to the Super Bowl with a 49-15 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. They were led by league MVP Cam Newton.
In the Super Bowl, the Denver Broncos and MVP Von Miller topped the Panthers 24-10. It also was the final game in the storied career of Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.
Edwards said the loss lingered for some time but he’s now comfortable with what the Panthers accomplished last season.
“After a while and time goes by, you get time to reflect -- especially for me since I’m done -- on what we were able to accomplish and there’s no bad feelings about it,” Edwards said. “It was an amazing season. We came up a little short, but that doesn’t take away from it.”
Edwards called the chance to play in the Super Bowl the highlight of his career and something he wasn’t sure he’d get the chance to do.
“After 12 years, you think you’ll never get that opportunity,” he said. “To be around the group of guys we had in Carolina was amazing. I wish everyone could experience football like that. It’s not like that everywhere. Being a part of it was amazing and I’m blessed.”
As Edwards worked with the young campers Saturday, he taught fundamentals and work ethic and preached in thinking big. He also reflected on his youth growing up in Columbus and what it meant to be able to give back.
“It’s always great to be back, a great reflection of where I come from,” he said. “There’s no way I thought at their age I’d be playing in the NFL. You can’t put limitations on yourself. You cannot put ceilings on yourself. I encourage them to dream big and go after it.”