PHOTO: New England Patriots wide receiver Troy Brown carries the ball against the Indianapolis Colts during the AFC divisional playoff game, Sunday, Jan. 16, 2005, in Foxboro, Mass.(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
What To Do With Troy
By Scout.com Staff
Now that Troy Brown is back in the fold, the Patriots must figure out what to do with him. The veteran receiver signed a one-year deal on May 23, returning to the team that originally drafted him in 1993, but it's unclear what his role will be this year.
Brown will turn 34 in July, and his days as a top-flight receiver are behind him. Since setting a franchise record with 101 catches in 2001, his offensive production has declined in each of the last three years as the Patriots have drafted younger, faster players at his position. Injuries have also taken their toll on his body.
Nonetheless, Brown has found others ways to chip in. He has been the team's primary punt returner for the past five years, and he added a new dimension to his game last season by learning how to play defense and filling in as a nickel back.
The Patriots saved money by declining his $2.5 million option during the offseason and bringing him back two months later for $775,000. His return is a warm-hearted story, considering he turned down a more lucrative offer from the New Orleans Saints at the request of his six-year-old son, Sir'mon, but he might not get much playing time on either side of the ball. The Patriots spent the winter building depth with younger, more reliable players, so Brown will have to earn his spot.
"I'm going to give it my best shot. Wherever they put me at, that is what I'm going to do," Brown said. "That's the way I've always been and that is the way I continue to be. I just enjoy playing the game. I enjoy winning. That's a big reason I stayed here. I enjoy winning and I knew that part of my best chance at winning was to stay here, too."
Cracking the lineup on offense will be tough because the Patriots will open training camp in July with eight receivers. Among that group will be Deion Branch, the MVP of Super Bowl XXXIX, and David Givens, who burst onto the scene last year and led the team with 56 catches for 874 yards. Those two are the cornerstones. The Patriots also signed veterans Tim Dwight and David Terrell to help absorb the loss of David Patten, and they're counting on 26-year-old Bethel Johnson to finally start producing.
Brown could still get a few snaps on defense, but the Patriots would rather use more experienced players. That's why they acquired cornerback Duane Starks from the Cardinals, signed Chad Scott and drafted rookie Ellis Hobbs III. Assuming Tyrone Poole returns from the knee injury that kept him out for the second half of last season, the Patriots will have enough defensive backs to avoid having to use Brown.
With that in mind, Brown should still be the man on punt returns. He has the most experience and he has tremendous instincts. He knows when to catch and run and when to call for a fair catch -- something that others on the roster haven't been able to do consistently in his absence. Wherever he plays, he'll be happy because he'll be doing it in Foxboro, Mass., which has been his home for 13 years.
"I don't worry about the future," Brown said. "I make the best of each day that I have. I go out there and I put my best effort out there. If it's enough, it's enough. If it's not, they'll make their decision and I'll live with it."
-- WR David Terrell, one of the Patriots' most notable offseason acquisitions, has been working with former Dallas Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin in an effort to build on his successful 2004 season. Under the direction of head coach Lovie Smith, Terrell caught 42 passes for a career-high 699 yards. When he arrived in New England, strength and conditioning Mike Woicik coach hooked him up with Irvin, whom he worked with while in Dallas. Terrell and Irvin share a lot of similarities, including their occasional brash on-field behavior. "He had an aggressive style on the field, he was feared by defensive backs," Terrell said. "He controlled ballgames and that's what I want to do, be in position to control ballgames with your quarterback and running back. I feel like I can be that type of guy."
-- Other than releasing QB Chris Redman, the Patriots didn't do anything else cap-related before the June 1 cut deadline. By releasing expensive veterans Ty Law and Roman Phifer, and declining Troy Brown's option, the Patriots got themselves below the NFL-mandated salary cap long before the free-agent signing period began in March. The only other move they made this week was releasing offensive tackle Lance Nimmo, who joined the Patriots in November and spent one week on the active roster.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "What does that (one Super Bowl) mean? That doesn't mean anything right now. I need a couple more. I need two or three like the rest of these guys. If you're wondering if I'm still hungry, don't even bother. I'm hungry. I'm thirsty." -- Running back Corey Dillon on his desire to win another Super Bowl in New England.
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