"The guys are flying around a little bit, learning what to do and trying to learn how to play football," Brown said. "You can evaluate more (with full pads) because it's more physical and you don't have as many concerns because you've got on the full gear. So you get a closer look.
"At least they look like they're ready to play and they want to play, so that's been good."
Brown said that defensive backs are playing hard, but that they will have to step it up even more now.
"We just like to play physical. They shouldn't have been hitting (Monday)," he said. "But we'll find out today because today is when they really should be hitting. Everybody will get to see today how they're playing."
The second-year defensive coordinator did not seem to agree with the idea that at 6-2, 255 Morrice Richardson was small for the defensive end position.
"Right now it's early and we'll be able to evaluate guys since we're in to pads now. We put guys in places where we take advantage of things that they have and the things that they can do," he said. "I didn't know that he was undersized."
"They're football players and wherever we ask guys to play we would like for them to be able to perform," Brown said. "The more you can do, the more it allows us to do different things. It allows us to do some things that maybe we have not been able to do in the past. It's still football at the end of the day.
"We like to have flexibility so that we can do different things from different looks with different people."
Some of that flexibility will come into play against teams that run the spread offense, but Brown said that the staff did not focus on the spread anymore than any other defense in the offseason.
"We spend time getting ready for all of our opponents. That's just one offense that we happened to spend some time with, but like I said, we do that for everyone." "It's just an offense. It has components to it just like any other offense. It has things that pose problems just like all offenses do."
The defensive unit has had to make no changes in philosophy in response to the call by Charlie Weis to have a fast start, according to Brown.
"(It's the) same way we approach everything everyday. You go from down to down, play to play, game to game, practice to practice," he said. "For us, really nothing has changed. You always go in that progression, just like you do when you're learning, just like you do when you're playing. It's from A to B to C to D. Just trying to win every play."
This year's group of freshmen could contribute to helping the Irish start fast.
"They've picked things up relatively well compared to some freshmen that I've been around and they're eager to play and they want to play. So I think that's been good for us," Brown said.
Brown said that adding the freshmen to the mix of players that the team had in the spring only makes everyone better through competition.
"Everywhere there's more competition because you've got more guys," he said. "Competition is good and that's what we want as coaches. We want that as players, so it's been a good thing."
The coaching staff has encouraged the players to focus on their fundamentals and have been pleased with the results so far.
"All of our players we would like for them to be technicians. We want all of them to be fundamentally sound because across the board that's what we teach," Brown said. "I think that we've been stressing that a lot this year and I think that everyone has improved in that area."