Kareem Brown learned a lot at Miami - including NFL knowledge
By John Ingoldsby
FOXBORO, Mass. - Kareem Brown did not have to participate in the Patriots rookie mini camp this weekend to get his first taste of the NFL. New England's second pick in the draft from Miami had already digested plenty from the legion of "U" alumni now playing in the pros.
While holding court in his new Patriots locker room over the weekend, the fourth round pick's outsized personality was matched only by his massive physical stature.
At 6-foot-4, 290-pounds, the defensive lineman described his good fortune of having built-in access to the Miami NFL pipeline thusly, "It helps a lot. I talk to those guys all the time, and they just give me a little bit of their experience in the NFL. It motivates you. You see them every day and you want to be in their shoes."
One of those alumni is the Patriots Vince Wilfork, also a defensive lineman, and when Brown watched Wilfork make his famous fumble recovery last year and start rumbling toward the end zone, Brown gave his best Forrest Gump impression while recalling his only thought: "Run Vince Run." When asked if he would have taken that one to the house, Brown said confidently, "I would have, yeah."
That may be a matter of opinion, but Bill Belichick, the person whose opinion matters most, commented on the differences between the two Miamians, saying, "There's definitely some differences, but I think he has a little bit of a different skill set than Vince. He has a style of play. Vince has his style of play. I'm not saying they both aren't good, they're just different."
Regarding the adaptions both have made and will make, Belichick stated, "They played in the same defense and now they're coming to a different defense, and that's a similar situation that they have that in common. But I think that the players themselves are different. Different skills. Different body types."
Yet when asked if Brown has position flexibility, Belichick said, "I don't know. We'll see. He did a number of different things in that system, but in our system against our level of competition, we'll just have to see how all of that goes. I'm not saying that he can't. I'm not ruling it out. We'll just have to teach him the different positions, work at them in the spring camps, take a look at it in training camp and evaluate how it's going."
But Belichick agrees that he got a standout in Brown, "Yes, sure. He's definitely a player that we thought was going to be drafted back in the fall."
The three-time Super Bowl champion coach also acknowledged Brown's mentioning that he had lost weight, saying, "It's true. I think we'll have to see him out on the field. I don't think it's slowed him down. He's reshaped his body a little bit in the last few months. I think he looks good."
The coach continued with his endorsement of Brown's weight loss, "I think it started at the end of the season. It wasn't something that just happened in February. It was something that was a couple of months along. You always like to see players in good condition. I know that in March when I was down there, that's not midseason, but you want to see players in good condition and training and it's clear that he's been working hard and that was evident in the workouts as well."
However, before dropping the weight, Brown was coming on strong in the last six games of the season. But Belichick took the long view, stating, "He's been playing down there for quite awhile, so we saw the whole body of work. He put everything into it. What you see on tape over the last couple of years, the individual workouts, his testing, interview, all of that stuff. I can't put a percentage on one or the other. It was all a factor."
Yet, Brown's position coach at Miami boldly believed he was the best defensive lineman in college football during the second half of last season. And Brown, not Patriots first pick Brandon Meriweather, was Miami's Defensive Player of the Year in 2006. But Belichick is a coach with his own opinions.
"With all due respect to what everybody else thinks, it's in a different system," said Belichick. "It doesn't really matter. It will be how players perform in our system. That's what's most important to us. You have to try to project that based on all of the things that you know and what you think will happen when that player gets into your system. It's a very inexact science. That's totally respectful of what somebody did somewhere else. I understand that. I appreciate that. We'll just evaluate what happens here. That's what we do with everybody. That's the way it will be with all of the players this year. That's the way it was with the players last year. That's the way it will be next year."
When evaluating Brown, not everyone was complimentary of Brown's college career, since he was also labeled with the onerous underachiever tag. Brown tacked that rap head-on over the weekend, retorting, "Not my coaches. My coaches had a lot of confidence in my ability, they knew what I could do. People just make judgments, I just play football. I guess the media may have made judgments, and it just echoes. I am not sure where the underachiever term came from."
It doesn't matter now, since as Belichick stated above, the only judgments taking place in Foxboro will be based on what Brown does in Foxboro.
John Ingoldsby is a free-lance sports writer based in Medfield, Massachusetts, who has written articles about the Patriots for various publications during the past five years. You can find John on the Patriots Insider boards under the handle Rudiee.
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