After a relatively quiet first seven days of training camp, John Brown gave about 1,000 Ravens fans attending Thursday morning’s practice a glimpse of what he can provide for the offense.
During a 7-on-7 drill, the 5-foot-11, 178-pound wide receiver sped past cornerback Marlon Humphrey and caught a 50-yard pass from quarterback Joe Flacco for a touchdown. During a full-team exercise, Brown and Flacco executed a back-shoulder pass against Humphrey again for another long gain. And in another 7-on-7 drill, Brown caught a throw from Flacco with one hand in the end zone against cornerback Brandon Carr.
It was quite a display for the 28-year-old former Arizona Cardinals wideout, who signed a one-year, $5 million contract in March as the offense retooled its receiving corps. But for Brown, it marked an opportunity to try to help the unit start quickly after enjoying a day off Wednesday.
“My mindset was just to come in and get better [after] a day off,” he said. “Most days, most guys come back sluggish, and my mindset was just to come back and finish where we left off at.”
A Cardinals third-round draft pick in 2014, Brown enjoyed his best season in 2015 when he caught 65 passes for 1,003 yards and seven touchdowns. His speed — he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.34 seconds at the NFL Scouting Combine, which was the third-fastest time of any player — helped him become a downfield threat, which is what he hopes to bring to revive a passing attack that ranked last in the league in receptions of at least 20 yards last season.
“The coaches trust in me, and the players trust in me,” he said. “It’s up to me to make the plays when they count.”
Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg might’ve been the least surprised by Brown’s success on Thursday.
“Those are the types of plays he made — I studied him when he was coming out — clear back in junior college and at Pittsburg State,” Mornhinweg said. “He’s very good down the field. He’s got great speed. He’s very good at getting in and out of breaks as well. So he’s had a heck of a camp.”
That Brown’s three biggest plays came with Flacco throwing the ball is an encouraging sign as the quarterback tries to develop chemistry with Brown, Michael Crabtree and Willie Snead IV — all of whom are new to the roster. Brown said their rapport is growing.
“I’m feeling good about it,” he said. “Joe’s a great quarterback. Even with the backup quarterbacks, we’ve got a lot of weapons. It just feels good to get a connection down with all of them.”