BR Rookie Diary: James Brown

Bear Report caught up with rookie James Brown, whom most considered the best offensive lineman not selected in this year's draft, to discuss his transition from college to the NFL.

James Brown is in the house. Not singer/songwriter James Brown, but G/T James Brown (6-4, 312) from Troy University. Brown was widely considered the best offensive lineman not selected in this year's draft, which is why the Chicago Bears rushed to sign him once the draft ended. In fact, ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper had Brown ranked as the 54th best player in the entire draft class.

Brown was named to the 2011 preseason Outland Trophy Watch List and was a preseason All-Sun Belt pick. In 2010 Brown started 12 games at left tackle. In 2009, he led the team with 66 knockdown blocks, starting in 13 games.

His hometown is Magnolia, Mississippi and he was a Criminal Justice Major in college.

Brown talks with Bear Report about his week so far at Halas Hall.

"I'm so glad that the whole draft process is over and that I am fortunate enough to land on a team as impressive as the Chicago Bears. Draft weekend was brutal; I have to admit that. Sitting there trying to believe you'll get a chance, then hearing everybody's name called but yours is not my idea of a pleasant way to spend some time.


OT James Brown
Joe Robbins/Getty

"The call came from the Bears right after the draft had concluded. That changed my mood completely. I was grateful that they saw something in me and were willing to give me the opportunity to prove myself.

"I'm from Mississippi so I'm not at all familiar with this area. There won't be much time for quite a while to see the sights, but I'm sure that eventually I'll get the chance to learn about this town.

"The team, of course, I knew all about before coming to Chicago. Walking out on the field and seeing Brian Urlacher for the first time was impressive. I can't believe I will be playing against guys of that skill level. The downside to that is that all of these players are very good. Facing Pro Bowlers is quite different from playing against another team in the Sun Belt conference. I keep telling myself it's only football. Soon, I hope I'll believe that.

"Am I intimidated by the level of competition because I come from a small school? Not really. If I didn't have confidence then I wouldn't have come this far. However, this is definitely a level beyond where I've been before.

"Since I started playing football at age 8, I always wanted to play in the NFL and I always believed that I could make it. Sure, there was a moment of doubt during the draft, but I'm here now and that is all that counts. I understand that time here can be short. I'm driven to succeed and I'll do what it takes to get where I want to be.

"What do I feel I can contribute to the Bears? I work hard and I have a very strong will to win. I am a quick study who isn't afraid to practice until I get it right. My size is good and I move well. I understand there is a steep learning curve here, but I feel I can get it done.

"The skills I need to work on right now are the fine points of technique and being able to translate what I see in the playbook to situations on the field. I can see already that the speed of the pro game is much faster than what I am accustomed to. I need to learn things so well that I don't think before I react. Over thinking slows me down. Reacting quickly is vital to the effectiveness of my game.

"I've been working with the position coach and have introduced myself to some of the veterans. The vets answer my questions and are putting in the time to help me get acclimated. I believe that as the week goes on, I'll settle in and start playing better.

"Being a rookie in the NFL is definitely hard work but this is the most fun I've ever had in football.

"Everybody jokes about my name. It's always been there, so what am I going to do about it? Actually, I think it makes people remember me more. I did some research on James Brown the singer years ago as everybody was always asking me about him. An impressive guy. If you have to get the same name as somebody famous, he's not a bad choice."


Beth Gorr has been covering the Bears for the last 12 years and is the author of Bear Memories: The Chicago-Green Bay Rivalry. She is currently working on a second book about early Bears history.

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