FOXBORO, Mass. — Brandon Browner walked a fine line between some friendly competition and all-out war between the offense and defense during Wednesday’s practice.
After Browner and wide receivers coach Chad O’Shea got into a heated exchange, it was smart to split up the defensive backs and wide receivers for a few practice periods.
Browner made amends with O’Shea, “hugging it out” during practice.
“That’s a coach, I’ve got to respect him,” Browner said Wednesday at Gillette Stadium after training camp.
The chippiness started when Browner and wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins exchanged three physical 1-on-1 battles. O’Shea flagged Browner during a face-off with wideout Brandon LaFell, which set off the cornerback.
Browner signed a three-year, $16.8 million contract this offseason. He’ll start the season with a four-game suspension after violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
“I need to be liked by my teammates,” Browner said after practice. “Those are the guys I’m going to go to war with. But at the same time, I’m going to be aggressive with those guys. It’s going to make them guys better, and I hope they bring the same fire back at me.”
There were no hard feelings from Thompkins, who hoped to smooth things out with Browner in the Patriots locker room.
“We’re gonna see each others’ faces,” Thompkins said after practice. “We have another six hours together. Hopefully we can crack a couple jokes later.”
Browner had some high praise for Thompkins after practice on Wednesday. Thompkins has a tendency to beat Browner with quickness, while the cornerback can easily overpower the receiver.
“KT’s got routes at the line that are unmatchable,” Browner said. “Some guys aren’t as quick as that dude so it’s been a competitive run against that guy. It’s only going to make me better.”
Thompkins complimented Browner, who’s 6-foot-4, 221 pounds, on his combination of size and athleticism.
“He’s a tremendous athlete,” Thompkins said of Browner. “I think all those guys are tremendous athletes. Brandon, he’s got great length and every DB that we got out there is competitive, so at the receiver position, we have to make sure we’re working on our releases and make sure we’re getting open.”
The Patriots’ defense was impressive on Wednesday, holding quarterback Tom Brady to just eight completions on 18 attempts during 11-on-11s. Browner had his best practice of training camp and intercepted Brady late in the training camp session.