FOXBORO, Mass. — It didn’t take long for Tarell Brown to make an impact in New England Patriots training camp.
The veteran cornerback stood out early in camp because of an unusual single-digit number for a defensive back, but even after switching from No. 9 to No. 31 Tuesday, Brown was still emerging in the Patriots’ cornerback competition.
Brown, who signed after the Patriots completed organized team activities and minicamp as he nursed a broken foot, has allowed just four catches on eight attempts in 1-on-1 or 3-on-3 drills over the last two practice sessions. He made three pass breakups Sunday in his first full practice and appears to have the right mindset as he tries to learn a different language: the Patriots’ defense.
“The communication is the biggest difference — terminology,” Brown said Tuesday. “But at the same time, it’s still football, so for me, I’m doing a lot of studying off the field and on the field with the coaches, putting in some extra time so I can pick things up. I know I’m starting behind, but at the same time, I’m putting in the effort and the time to pick up this playbook.”
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound cornerback spent the first seven years of his NFL career with the San Francisco 49ers, where he went from being a role player to a starter by the end of his tenure. He started 14 games for the Oakland Raiders before breaking his foot last season.
“Just knocking the rust off,” Brown said. “I haven’t played football, competitive football since I got put on IR after breaking my foot, so just getting back, knocking the rust off is the biggest thing for me and just jelling with my teammates. That’s the most important thing. Just coming out here, competing every day and trying to get better. I think if I work on that every day, all the rust will come off pretty soon.”
Brown is enjoying his time with the Patriots, which includes going up against one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the NFL. Brown is relishing that opportunity.
“You’re damn right I am,” Brown said. “You get an opportunity to go against a Hall of Fame quarterback, man, every day, it can’t do anything but make you better. For me, I just enjoy the competition. I enjoy to compete with that guy because he’s going to make it challenging for you. He’s going to do different things that you don’t expect him to do, and it’s fun.”
Brown likes No. 31 more than No. 9, but he might not be settled on a digit just yet. In college, he wore No. 25, which is currently occupied by fellow cornerback Daxton Swanson.
“Yeah, I finally got rid of that number,” Brown said. “Y’all can see I changed it. This might not be my permanent number. So, I’m trying to lobby with a few guys on the team to see what I can pull off, but it’s not about the number. It’s just about coming out here, trying to be a leader, putting forth the effort day-in and day-out.”
Brown is competing with Swanson, Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan, Bradley Fletcher, Robert McClain, Jimmy Jean and Darryl Roberts for not only a roster spot, but a starting role in the Patriots secondary.
Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@MarkDanielsPJ