Skip to main content

Rookie Brown makes grand entrance


Rookie Duane Brown knows how to make an entrance.

About one hour into the Texans' first preseason practice Friday, Brown trotted onto the field to greet his already sweating new teammates. General manager Rick Smith and the Texans' No. 1 draft pick worked late into the night before hammering out a contract to get their prize left tackle prospect to work.

"He's the first guy I ever saw sign his contract with his ankles taped," coach Gary Kubiak said. "But we got him out here and we got him in for a portion of the practice. It was a great job by Rick and all the guys to get him signed."

Brown was the final Texans' draftee to sign his contract following the marathon negotiating session.

"That's important and it will pay dividends for Brown," Texans owner Bob McNair said. "These youngsters can't miss training camp. Once they get behind, it's hard to catch up."

Getting Brown onto the field kept Smith's record clean at getting his draft picks signed before preseason camp.

Smith's emotions?

"Relief, relief, I mean it was a long night, literally," Smith said. "We agreed sometime around 6:15 in the morning and this thing started yesterday afternoon in earnest. So, relief is the big thing."

Kubiak isn't easing Brown into the lineup.

"He'll work with the first group," Kubiak said. "We've got a long way to go before we play Pittsburgh and who's out there opening day, but he'll continue to work with that group."

Brown is trying to take the starting left tackle job away from veteran Ephraim Salaam. Eric Winston is the starter on the right side, backed up by Rashad Butler at the moment.

"Ephraim and Butler will push the heck out of those two tackles that we have," Kubiak said. "We'll see how that works."

The Texans won't dock Brown's first check for missing part of the first workout. They saw his potential during OTAs. They are just happy he's officially a member of the team.

"I think it's important that everyone is out here," Kubiak said. "He's a big part of what we're doing."

{QUOTE}Brown played tight end during his freshman season at Virginia Tech but shifted to the offensive line and played offensive tackle for his final 40 college games. He helped the Hokies compile a 32-8 record and win the ACC title last season.

Brown played only one season at left tackle, but Winston sees a bright future for the Texans' latest line prospect.

"I think he's going to be a great addition to the team," Winston said. "He's not a guy who wants to stick out. He's a player and he's going about his business that way."

Brown likely will get plenty of rookie hazing for his late arrival at the first practice. Still, his teammates understand the contract process.

"He's got to do his deal," Winston said. "He's got to be happy when he comes in here, but it's important to get in here from the start and get the first installment."

Winston has been impressed with Brown from the beginning.

"This is review from OTAs," Winston said. "He got good experience with that. He's a worker. He's going to come in here and work. I like the way he approaches things and interacts with the guys.

"I think he's going to be a great addition to the team. He's not a guy who wants to stick out. He's a player and he's going about his business that way."

Brown isn't worried about the rookie treatment he'll get as camp progresses. He's just tickled to be on the field.

"They knew I was here to work and that's what it's all about," Brown said. "I'm an official member of the NFL and a member of the Houston Texans. It's an honor for me. I'm ready to work as hard as I can for them."

Winston expects Brown's biggest adjustment from college to the pros to be mental.

"I hate to say it's so much faster because I didn't think that," Winston said of his rookie year. "I thought it was that everyone was so much smarter. You can't make mistakes here.

"One or two mistakes in college and that's OK. Not here. Not even mental mistakes, just technical mistakes. You have to be perfect up here to just get by up here, not even be great.

"That's the adjustment he has to undergo is realizing what that means and how to go about it."

Winston has advised Brown occasionally. But most of the transition is on Brown.

"You can over-talk guys and they stop listening," Winston said. "If I think it's a major deal, I'll say something. But he's got to figure it out for himself, too. There's a certain amount of stuff that they couldn't tell me. I had to figure it out for myself. That's the best way to go about it. If you don't, you're never really learning."

Brown is pleased that his pro indoctrination has him going daily against defensive end Mario Williams, who had a breakout season in 2007.

"Both sides of the ball are working hard. It's great competition," Brown said. "The offense was able to move the ball and the defense got some stops. We're making each other better."

Brown already has seen the need for perfection.

"You can really get embarrassed and exposed, especially at the left tackle position," Brown said.

EDITOR'S NOTE: *Michael A. Lutz worked for The Associated Press for 38 years covering news and sports in Louisville, Ky. Dallas and Houston. Most of that time was spent in Houston covering the Oilers, Astros, Texans and other college and pro sports. *

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content