Mini-Camp: Antonio Brown Is Red Hot
Not a press conference went by during the Washington Redskins' three-day mini-camp, in which wide receiver Antonio Brown's name was not mentioned. By all accounts the West Virginia University product has been the most surprising player of the 2005 off-season.
Brown is perhaps best known for his electrifying punt and kick return abilities. His blazing speed and ability to cut back across the field seemingly in mid-air have made him a valuable member of the special teams unit. During OTA practices and mini-camp, it is his prowess as a receiver that has made him standout.
Coach Joe Gibbs said: "He looked extremely good at receiver. I've been super impressed with him. He's probably had as many deep balls as anybody out there."
It's not just the offensive coaching staff that has taken notice either. During Saturday's post-practice media session, Assistant Head Coach Gregg Williams, who was the head coach in Buffalo that gave Brown his first shot in the NFL, spoke of Brown's big-play ability.
"Antonio Brown has done a tremendous job," Williams noted. "He's probably made more big plays down the field in this offseason than any player on our team."
Brown has good hands and runs good routes, but his speed is the thing that sets him apart. Running back Clinton Portis has named Brown whenever he has been asked about overall team speed. According to Coach Gibbs, Portis' perception of the 5-10, 175-pound return specialist started from the first time Brown worked out for the coaching staff.
Coach Gibbs told the media: "When we worked [Antonio Brown] out last year it was one of the few times Clinton came out and said 'I can't believe that'."
On more than one occasion, Gibbs has even made the claim that Brown maybe the fastest man in the NFL. Brown agrees with that assertion.
"If every guy is telling the truth about how fast they are", Brown said, "I think number wise, I'm the fastest."
Coach Gibbs believes that speed is a key factor, but not the only factor that make a good football player, and he sees more in Brown than just quickness.
"You can be fast but if you're not a good football guy it's not going to do you any good. I think he's a good football guy."
First and foremost though, Antonio Brown is the leading candidate to return punts and kicks in 2005. Brown, who was brought in last season after Chad Morton went down for the season with a torn ACL, realizes that while he enjoys the chance to play wide receiver, it is on the special teams unit that he must make his mark.
"As far as being a receiver, I have a long way to go. I have to continue to work on he little things as far as catching the ball, getting in and out of cuts and in and out of breaks and making sure I get my alignment right and I'm running the right routes, but if I have any chance of making this team, it's going to be on special teams."
Brown may underestimate his abilities as a wide receiver, but the coaching staff think he is a playmaker - and ultimately, they're the ones who make the decision.
Scott Hurrey is a senior writer for theHogs.net. To contact Scott with questions or comments, please contact him at Scott.Hurrey@theHogs.net.
This article was released on 2005-06-19.
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