Brown’s not the ‘Horse,’ but he’s ready to gallop


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Jan 22, 2006
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Brown’s not the ‘Horse,’ but he’s ready to gallop
The Kansas City Star

Dee Brown is different now. He’s calling Larry Johnson “The Horse.” Times are uncertain with Kansas City’s running backs — well, all but one of them — and somebody asks Brown a hypothetical question about if he gets the job as the Chiefs’ No. 2 back.

“I will be Larry Johnson’s backup,” Brown says straight-faced, and then repeats himself.

“I’m ready, and you can capitalize that in bold print.”

It took five NFL stops and a half-dozen chances, but this will be Dee Brown’s best shot. He knows it. Priest Holmes’ neurological issues are still lingering, the Chiefs have promised to run the ball more this fall, and even The Horse can’t carry it 500 times.

When the team broke a few weeks ago for a short summer break, coach Herm Edwards penciled in Brown as his No. 2 back after a strong month of offseason workouts.

“Right now, I’m anticipating that Priest Holmes is coming back,” Edwards said. “I’m hoping for good reports and (that) he comes back. If not, then obviously Dee Brown is the next candidate, and if there’s going to be more candidates, so be it.

“But Dee Brown needs an opportunity. He had a good camp. He flashed a lot but hasn’t done it in pads. We’ll find out in pads. He’s a good football player. We have a starting running back, I know that. If (Priest isn’t cleared), then obviously Dee Brown is the person who gets the first shot at it.”

First shots are rare for Dee Brown. He was a star high school quarterback in Florida, went to Syracuse because he wanted to stay a quarterback and then fell behind on the depth chart to a young man named Donovan McNabb. Brown changed positions, finished as one of the top rushers at a school that produced Jim Brown, then injured his ankle his first year in Carolina.

He languished on the depth chart there; made failed stops at Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Cleveland; and was a roster casualty in Kansas City last summer. The Chiefs called him back in November, when Holmes went down, and he spent the last few months trying to catch up.

Finesse to Johnson’s power, Brown is a 5-foot-10, 210-pound analytical runner with good hands who can make defenders miss in small spaces. Much like Holmes, Brown is a good change-of-pace back for the Chiefs.

“Dee’s a smooth athlete,” Chiefs guard Brian Waters said. “It took him a few years of learning the position and the intricacies of the position and the physicalness. And I think over the last year or so, he’s done a great job of handling it. Last year, he saw an opportunity and took it.”

Mentally, Brown says, he’s ready. Physically, he needs some more work. He planned to spend much of his vacation working out at his home in Charlotte, N.C.

The team’s down time lasts only about a month, but Brown said it “can make or break you. If you have a lackadaisical attitude and think it’s all going to come together at training camp, you’ll be sadly mistaken.

“The great ones, the Patriots and the Steelers, those guys are mentally ready and physically ready (for camp). And I think it started right now.”

At 28, Brown recently realized he’s the oldest of the running backs (excluding Holmes). It has motivated him to become a leader this summer in the classroom and on the field.

He’ll be busy. Edwards wants to run the ball about 35 times a game and knows that Johnson, who ran for nine straight 100-yard games, will need some breathers.

Being the No. 2 guy in Kansas City could be a productive gig.

“This is my chance physically to go out there and compete and show what I can do,” Brown said. “I know how good I am. I think the coaching staff is starting to get it as well, and I’m glad they have the confidence in me.”
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