As he walked off the field, Pharaoh Brown wasn't pleased with his day of practice. Day after day, he made was making eye-popping catches, but not today.
"Probably one of my worst days of training camp," he said, unwrapping the tape from his fingers.
Brown didn't make any excuses, but his night was spent in the hospital. A worried dad, sleeping next to his two-year-old son who underwent emergency surgery after a routine doctor's visit revealed a staph infection. His son was doing fine, he said. Brown hadn't missed a day of training camp practice, wanting to be there for both his family and for his teammates.
"Overall, I think I've had a good training camp and been able to gain the trust of the coaches and the quarterbacks," Brown said. "And that's really what is what it boils down to first. So that during moments, moments when we need plays on the offense, they trust that I can go out there and make them. So I think I've been able to show that and just want to continue building on that."
Two weeks ago, before the medical emergency with his son, Brown had shown up to training camp looking noticeably trimmer and faster. In the offseason, he made some tweaks to his diet, motivated by what he saw last season.
"Last year, just watching myself on film, I was moving like molasses," Brown said. "I wasn't athletic. I wasn't explosive. Right now, I'm 262 and feel good, feeling fast. Like I said, it was all part of the plan."
Brown's diet was a healthy one, aside from his love of sauces (particularly Sweet Baby Ray's), he admits. He also successfully dropped his body fat from 18 percent to 14.9 percent, aiming for even lower by the start of the season.
"I really leaned on our people here, Ladd (Harris, Director of Team Wellness) and everybody, and I just kept doing what they were saying and he just kept saying, don't worry about it, don't worry about it," Brown said. "It was kind of like when I got back, it just happened. I just credit the process and the support of the people here."
Brown got lighter mentally as well. Frustration from his performance last year was the impetus for the veteran to get mental clarity. The Texans 2021 offense struggled as did Brown, who didn't find the endzone at all in his fourth season, but drew plenty of penalty flags in his 15 games played.
"The stuff that was happening was very uncharacteristic of me and myself in my career," Brown said." So it was just like a learning lesson to be able to be aware of that. And I had like a mental breakdown after the season, just like a rush of stuff. You know, as men and we kind of like let that stuff build up and like we're tough, we're tough. I think just having that mental breakdown and was a thing to go out and get therapy and start finding ways to clear my mind and understand and work on that."
Brown went on a retreat with a shaman to clear his negative thoughts, heal and move forward with purpose. When asked, he says the key to happiness for him is to help his team win games. When the team wins, he wins, his family wins, the fans win. Now motivated more than ever in Year 5, Brown is looking to see his offseason work translate on the field when the season starts.
"I learned a lot last season," Brown said. "What I took from it was just my mental, so after the season, I did a lot of stuff, just getting my mind right, getting my body right, just getting everything right. Last year, was not one of my best years. I really just came out just a whole totally different player. I think it was a learning lesson, and you kind of go through that, everything. You have some setbacks and it's kind of helped propel me to where I'm at now."