Newly signed Jets offensive tackle Duane Brown believes the criticism surrounding his age is warranted as he steadily approaches his 37th birthday on Aug. 30.
However, Brown exudes a convincing confidence when talking about his strongest assets and what he thinks he can bring to the Jets, who signed the Virginia native to essentially a one-year, $9 million guaranteed contract on Monday. He knows he still has to go out there and prove it, he said, but he’s feeling good about doing so.
“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t,” Brown said when asked if he thinks he’s the same player as he’s always been despite entering his 15th year in the NFL. “I don’t play the game just to be out there. I want to play at a high level. I work hard and continue to play at a high level. I think you ask my opponents that I play against, they’ll tell you, I play at a high level.
“There’s not many people that play to this age, so those criticisms are well warranted. I’m not going to talk about what I’m going to do as much, just get out there on the field and prove it. That’s what I plan to do.”
Coach Robert Saleh said Brown, who was signed in wake of Mekhi Becton’s season-ending knee injury, should start gett ing reps with the team beginning Thursday. It sounded like Saleh wants Brown to participate in the dual practice with the Falcons on Friday, but the coach was unsure if he’d compete in the Jets’ second preseason game against Atlanta on Monday.
Though there doesn’t seem to be any rush to get the 6-foot-4, 329-pounder involved in team drills, Brown acknowledged there’s some sense of urgency to get the offensive line together with the start of the regular season just under four weeks away.
But Brown is already familiar with the Jets’ system, he said, noting that he played in the same one for the first seven years of his career with the Texans.
“You want that continuity, but with the O-line especially, because you’d love to get them to a point where they’re making nonverbal communication calls,” Saleh said. “They already know, they’ve been working together so much that they don’t have to speak, they can just play, which is always hard to go against because you can’t get those pre-snap indicators. I think we have time. Duane has been in the system, so he’ll know how to communicate it.”
Additionally, Brown is already familiar with Saleh after the two spent three seasons together in Houston from 2008-10. Saleh first served as the defensive assistant (2005-08) before becoming the assistant linebackers coach (2009-10). John Benton, the Jets’ offensive line and run game coordinator, also coached Brown for the first six of his nine years with the Texans.
With Brown’s arrival, George Fant was moved to right tackle for the first time. Fant had stepped in for Becton at left tackle last season and retained the job at the start of this year’s training camp, but the Jets evidently want to go with the same alignment the two tackles had during their three seasons as teammates with the Seahawks.
“We’ve been friends since we played together in Seattle, and we’ve always talked regularly since he’s been here,” said Brown, who did individual work off to the side Tuesday. “We’ve been in communication throughout this process. I have all the respect in the world for him. He’s a great player. He has a mutual respect for myself, as well. I think just the situation, the way it’s played out, it’s not easy for anybody. But he’s handled it greatly and I’m grateful for it.
“It hasn’t been that awkward for us. We’re on great terms. We’re friends before anything. We realize the way our line is set up right now, we have the potential to be a really good one. He’s embraced it.”