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Brown joins the Bolts
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The six-foot, 230-pound veteran running back arrived in San Diego Sunday night, took a physical and signed his contract Monday morning, before joining his new teammates about 10 minutes into Monday’s OTA practice. Despite a chaotic 24 hours, Brown was all smiles during practice and after.
“I came straight from a physical and hit the ground running,” said Brown. “As best I could, I tried to meet guys in between drills and talking to a few guys. Some of the guys I’m familiar with and some of the guys I see in the offseason.”
Brown knows a few Chargers, including tight end Randy McMichael, with whom he played in Miami from 2005-06, as well as linebacker Takeo Spikes, a fellow Georgia native and fellow graduate of Auburn University. And though he missed Head Coach Norv Turner by a couple years in Miami when Turner was the Dolphins’ offensive coordinator from 2002-03, Brown felt confident that he’d be able to pick up the Chargers’ system as his head coach at the time – former Chargers offensive coordinator Cam Cameron – ran a system very similar to Turner’s.
“It’s another guy who’s a playmaker; another guy who’s experienced,” said Norv Turner on Friday after Brown had agreed to his one-year contract. “He gives us competition. He gives us a guy who’s been very good in third-down and two-minute type situations. I’m anxious to get Ronnie in here and go to work with him.”
Now in his eighth NFL season, Brown spent his first six years in Miami after the Dolphins selected him in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft with the second overall selection. He rushed for 4,815 yards and 36 touchdowns for Miami, while catching 184 passes for 1,491 yards and a pair of scores. Brown ranks third on the Dolphins’ all-time list for rushing yards and touchdowns, and he’s tied with Hall of Fame running back Larry Csonka for the second-most 100-yard rushing games in team history.
Brown signed with Philadelphia as a free agent after the NFL lockout ended in 2011, but his opportunities dwindled with the Eagles as he played behind LeSean McCoy, who led the NFL with 20 touchdowns and added 1,624 combined rushing-receiving yards. Brown, by contrast, rushed for only 136 yards and scored just one touchdown while not catching a pass all season. He’s confident 2011 won’t repeat itself in San Diego.
“(San Diego) was just a good opportunity,” explained Brown. “Last year wasn’t anywhere as far as where I expected to be able to contribute and come in and do my part. I feel like it’s a great starting point here. They have a great quarterback; some veteran guys, some leadership and I think the work ethic around here is pretty good. And the expectation, as far as winning … where I wanted to go is somewhere that wants to win and expects to win. This was a great fit. Norv’s a great guy and just being familiar with some of the guys on the team, I thought I’d be able to come and fit in.”
Brown should be a comfortable fit in San Diego as he will have an opportunity to compete and platoon with fellow running backs Ryan Mathews and Curtis Brinkley. It’s something he’s done for a majority of his career. In college he shared backfield duties at Auburn with Carnell “Cadillac” Williams and in Miami he shared them with Ricky Williams. He’s already excited about the prospect of working in San Diego with his new backfield mates.
“For me, it’s just about coming in and putting in work,” said Brown. “I appreciate the opportunity, now I’ve got to do my part as far as coming in and learning my place as far as the plays and being able to come in and help Ryan (Mathews) and some of the stuff that I’ve just been around for years. At the same time he can help me. Just watching him I think he has all the ability in the world and I like the upside of him as a running back and some of the other guys as well, so it’s going to be good.”
Brown posted his only 1,000-yard season in 2006, rushing for 1,008 yards for the Dolphins. He earned a Pro Bowl selection in 2008 after scoring a career-high 10 touchdowns, while rushing for 916 yards. A versatile threat, Brown also threw two touchdown passes for the Dolphins out of the Wildcat formation, one each during the 2008 and ’09 seasons. He was asked if he anticipates having a role in the Chargers’ version of the Wildcat.
“We’re all trying to figure each other out and I’ve got to figure the system out,” explained Brown. “I’ve got to hit the ground running. They’re a few steps ahead of me as far as OTA number seven and the playbook and whatever so I’ve got to catch up and get on that level. Once I get the playbook down and get the plays, then I think everything else will take care of itself as far as what I’m supposed to do.”
Brown won’t have much chance to catch his breath as the Bolts have three more OTAs this week and then he will participate in next week’s Mini Camp that will conclude the team’s offseason program.
Notes: To make room for Brown on the roster, the Chargers waived safety Nick Polk. An undrafted free agent in 2011, Polk spent the season on injured-reserve, the result of a hand injury suffered in training camp. Brown took the field today sporting number 30. Rookie safety Sean Cattouse, who had been wearing 30 on defense, switched his number to 42. Read