It was Preston Brown, the Buffalo Bills’ third-spherical decide in 2014 who enters unrestricted free company in March having topped the league with 144 tackles this previous season — 83 solo and 61 assisted.
Durability has by no means been a concern for Brown, who stated by telephone final week that he has solely missed 4 video games throughout his whole soccer profession. But 2017 proved to be a transformative 12 months for Brown, who partly attributes his uptick in manufacturing to a determination he made on his personal final offseason to shed about 10 kilos and try and play sooner.
“I think it definitely helped throughout the course of the season. I never had any nagging little injury, hamstring or something like that,” he stated. “I think I had more success, more tackles, just being able to have more energy later in the game.”
Brown, 25, performed this previous season within the “low 240s,” down from his listed weight of 251 kilos. Losing the load meant chopping out the candy he would stash in his hoodie throughout practices, in addition to hiring a live-in personal chef to arrange him more healthy meals.
For the primary three years of his skilled profession, maintaining a healthy diet meant ordering wraps from the Wendy’s close to the Bills’ apply facility in Orchard Park, New York.
“It wasn’t [healthy]. It’s not good,” Brown stated final week. “[Now] I’m eating salads and greens, all the fruit and vegetable stuff I should have been eating instead of stopping by a drive-thru.”
Brown’s efficiency apparently was not misplaced on coach Sean McDermott, whose core message after being employed final 12 months was respecting the everyday process that goes into successful video games.
“In the exit meeting [after Buffalo’s playoff loss to Jacksonville], coach made it sound like they wanted me back,” Brown instructed ESPN. “He said some things that sounded like that. But you never know what’s going to happen during free agency. I would love to go back to Buffalo. That’s the No. 1 choice for me.”
Brown was on the sector for 1,098 of 1,108 defensive snaps this previous season, a 99.1 p.c taking part in-time fee that led Bills defenders. He additionally led Buffalo’s protection in taking part in 99.four p.c of snaps in 2016, 98.2 p.c of snaps in 2015 and 93.eight p.c of snaps in 2014.
Brown has performed in all 64 common-season video games since he entered the NFL, beginning each sport besides two throughout his first two months as a rookie. Since Brown supplanted then-Bills veteran linebacker Keith Rivers as a constant starter in 2014, he has worn the radio-geared up helmet to relay defensive play calls to his teammates.
“That’s my main thing I love to do, just seeing guys grow around me,” he stated. “There’s so many players that have been on this defense that have gotten better since they’ve come through here.”
The gamers round Brown haven’t been all that has modified. He started his NFL profession taking part in exterior linebacker in defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz’s four-three scheme below then-coach Doug Marrone. Brown shifted to center linebacker in coach Rex Ryan and defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman’s hybrid scheme in 2015, then to inside linebacker when Thurman, Rex Ryan and his brother Rob Ryan ran a three-four system in 2016.
McDermott tapped Brown as his center linebacker this previous season in a four-three scheme run by defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier.
“I really liked the 4-3 scheme, back to doing that, having fun with the guys,” Brown instructed ESPN. “I think it was a good fit for me. So hopefully they think it was a good fit as well. I don’t really know how things are gonna go. But I had fun last year and hope I can continue.”
Brown stated he would welcome the prospect to re-signal with Buffalo earlier than free company opens March 14. How Brown is valued on the open market stays to be seen. While his tackles have elevated every of his 4 seasons, Brown has not recorded an interception since 2015 and has three complete in his profession. He additionally has two profession compelled fumbles and one sack.
In comparability, Baltimore Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley had two interceptions and three compelled fumbles this previous season, Kuechly had three interceptions and one compelled fumble, and Wagner had two interceptions. All three had been voted to the Pro Bowl.
Brown attributes his lack of sacks to him not often being assigned to go rush, however he contends he’s higher in protection than some may assume.
“People need to say, ‘liability,’ and all that stuff, but when I used to be a legal responsibility, if I’m the offensive coordinator, I might throw at me each third down and each time within the crimson zone. I haven’t given up a landing since my rookie 12 months,” he instructed ESPN. “You need to say I’m a legal responsibility, but when I had 4 extra interceptions, they wouldn’t say that. So it’s simply all about getting these numbers.
“The ball must bounce my approach a little bit greater than it has. I have to catch it when I’ve the chance. That’s the largest factor. When you’ve interceptions, there’s a distinction. All it takes is a few performs and it reveals you might be a playmaker on the market. … Being smaller and stuff like that may assist me to get to these performs and assist me run a little sooner to get there.”
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Brown is the NFL’s second-leading tackler since coming into the NFL in 2014. His 504 complete tackles on protection are second solely to Wagner, with 518, and amongst good firm: Kuechly ranks third with 498, Tampa Bay’s Lavonte David ranks fourth with 481 and Mosley is fifth with 469.
“When you’re one of many prime tacklers within the league, I feel it says one thing,” Brown told ESPN. “Everybody needs to say, ‘They’re all the way down the field,’ and all that. But you bought to sort out them ultimately or they may simply rating.”