Troy Brown isn’t New England’s No. 1 receiver anymore. He’s not the wunderkind who switched from offense to defense when there was a secondary shortage.
He probably won’t make a huge play Sunday, like last year when, even as his statistics dipped, Brown forced a fumble against the Chargers to help put New England into the AFC championship game.
He probably won’t even see the field, but it doesn’t make it any less exciting for New England’s all-time leader in receptions with 557.
“I’m excited about what we can accomplish and what I can accomplish,” Brown said. “One of my personal goals is to be able to win four rings. Just having that opportunity to go out there is still exciting. Even though I haven’t participated much in the games this year, it’s still a thrill to be here.”
Brown is the seasoned veteran among a large cast of seasoned veterans. He is one of 10 Patriots to be a part of all three Super Bowl victories, and is the most tenured of all of them.
An eighth-round pick in 1993, Brown has spent his entire career with the Patriots, turning down a free agent offer from the New Orleans Saints in 2005 to stay with New England.
He’s been known as a jack-of-all trades, excelling on offense, defense and as a punt and kick returner.
This year has been a trying one for Brown. He was placed on the physically unable to perform list on Aug. 28, but amid questions as to whether he would return this season, Brown began practicing again on Nov. 12 and was activated soon afterward.
The only game he played in this season was a Week 16 contest against Miami. He’s been passed on the depth chart by Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Donte Stallworth.
This is nothing like 2002, when Brown had a crucial catch that eventually led to Adam Vinatieri’s field goal to win Super Bowl XXXVI. It’s nothing like 2005, when Brown caught three passes on the game-winning drive to beat Carolina.
Brown is more of a teacher now, relegated to mentoring some of his younger teammates, like Kevin Faulk. And it’s something that he’s accepted.
“You just enjoy a younger guy, when they come in, to latch on to you,” Brown said. “I’m not the one to reach out and grab a guy and say come on with me. He kind of just, you know, looked around for himself, studied people himself and see who he wanted to kind of emulate and what he wanted his career to be like.”