Specifically, that’s prove he’s more than just an excellent special-teams player.
Brown will keep his starting job and not give it back to LaRon Landry when the Colts (6-3) host the New England Patriots (7-2) Sunday night at Lucas Oil Stadium. Head coach Chuck Pagano said Monday that’s based in part on how well Brown has played in five starts and also because Landry is still trying to get in game shape after a lengthy layoff.
Brown, a fifth-year pro out of Notre Dame, will be making his sixth consecutive start. He has 15 tackles, four passes defended and one sack.
“Of course, I want to be out there every snap I can,” he said. “Coach (Pagano) and everybody in the organization, they’re going to put together the product to put on the field. But I just want to prove to them that I can be one of those guys.”
It’s unknown how often Landry will be mixed in at the safety position. The other safety, Mike Adams, is an 11th-year pro who has also played well since being added to the roster in June.
Sticking with Brown makes sense because he’s a better pass defender than Landry, who is known for his physicality. Landry is 6-0 and 226 pounds. Brown is 6-2 and 218, and he also played 26 games, including three starts, for the Patriots in 2011 and 2010.
“I’m ready to go,” Brown said. “Out there playing the last five games, I have confidence in myself to play. I have confidence to go out there and play on special teams as well. If I’m out there on the field, I feel like I can help the team out tremendously.”
He insists his thought process was never about holding down a job until Landry returned from a four-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Brown stuck to the old “one-game-at-a-time” process and didn’t think too far into the future.
On Sunday night, he’ll be looking at a former teammate, Tom Brady, who is playing as well as any quarterback in the NFL. The Patriots have the AFC’s best record and could take a major step toward solidifying a No. 1 seed with a victory.
“It’s Tom Brady, one of the best ever to touch a football,” Brown said. “You’ve just got to prepare like it’s your last game ever playing because he’s great.”
The Colts and the secondary must also concern themselves with tight end Rob Gronkowski, who is healthy again after a series of surgeries and is making defenders look silly. The two-time Pro Bowl star has 49 receptions for 663 yards and eight TDs this season.
“‘Gronk,’ he’s a beast,” Brown said. “He’s a mismatch. He’s a very, very big body. His catch diameter, his catch radius is so big, it’s kind of hard to guard him at times. You just have to try your best to smother him and do whatever you can to stop him.”
And even then, he can still make plays.
“Sometimes, it’s just not good enough,” he said. “You see the plays he makes every week. You just do what you can and hope for the best result.”
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.