Ravens' Brown is healing his body, soul

Tackle's knee improving

he is `going to be all right' after mourning mother

July 28, 2005|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Heading into what figures to be one of his final training camps, Ravens right tackle Orlando Brown says his injured right knee, which hindered his play last season and required surgery a few months ago, is slowly coming around.

In the same breath, Brown delivered a tidbit that was equally assuring for the Ravens. His mental focus, which was severely affected by the death of his mother early in the season, is as sharp as ever.

"I got a chance to mourn her," Brown said. "During the season, it happened so fast, I didn't get a chance to mourn her. During the offseason, I took time to think about how she raised me and what I miss about her. I had more time to think. So I'm going to be all right this year."

Brown's play slipped from a solid 2003 season when he came back from an eye injury that kept him out of football the previous three years. The problems in his personal life -- he said his mind drifted to thinking about his mother in the middle of games -- along with the physical ailments left Brown, 34, a step slow in pass coverage and without the same nasty aggressiveness on running plays.

It led the Ravens to draft Syracuse tackle Adam Terry in the second round, and the team expects him to push for time this season. In fact, Terry's role could wind up similar to that of Ethan Brooks the past two years. Brooks, who signed a free-agent contract with the New York Jets, split time during games with Brown, often rotating by series.

The Ravens may have changed the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, but the philosophy will remain the same. Brown is likely in for another rotation, especially if Terry is as polished as the Ravens anticipate.

Though Brown figures to be the only offensive lineman asked to rotate, he said he is fine with that, even though he expects his play to be better than a year ago. He also missed two games because of the right knee strain.

"His attitude has been really good," offensive coordinator Jim Fassel said of Brown. "He's trying to make the effort. Sometimes it's not as easy.

"I'd like to have him in there the whole time, but if I have to rest him to make him more effective, that will happen."

What the coaches are asking of Brown heading into the final days of the offseason is to drop a few pounds, thereby helping ease the stress on his body. Brown's 360-pound frame is the biggest of any lineman.

Coaches have already decided to limit Brown to one practice a day, if that, during training camp, a move that will increase the number of snaps with the starters for Terry. But that should also increase the chance of Brown remaining healthy enough for repetitions later in the season.

"Whatever they want, I'm not beefing about it," Brown said. "However I can help the team, like Deion [Sanders], if he can give them 30 plays a game, I can give them 30 plays. I can split time and teach [Terry]. If they want me to play a full game, I can play a full game. I'm just happy to get a second chance because usually when you sue an organization, they don't let you come back and play [Brown sued the NFL after a referee's flag hit him in the eye in December 1999]."

Chris Foerster, the Ravens' new offensive line coach, said he graded every game from last season and is confident Brown still has something left.

"Orlando Brown is a great pro," he said. "He comes to work every day, goes very hard. He brings a great attitude to the offensive line as far as his toughness, his demeanor, wanting to win, his competitiveness. He's a very aggressive, physical, tough, hard-nosed player, and you like that about him."

Said Brown: "I'm not that same young dude, but I still have that thump, still have that desire."

Sun staff writer Jamison Hensley contributed to this article.

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