The Kansas City Chiefs had a familiar face join them at training camp practice on Tuesday after he missed some time: left tackle Orlando Brown Jr.
Brown, whose side was unable to reach an agreement with the team on a contract extension by the July 15 deadline, missed the first week of camp. Not even head coach Andy Reid was aware of when Brown would be joining the club coming into camp, so his return just in time for week one of padded practices proved to be terrific timing. When asked about why this was when he chose to show up in St. Joseph, MO, Brown said the magnitude of this week played a major role in his decision. It sets the tone for a championship-caliber season.
“I’ve missed a lot of ball up until this point," Brown said. "Obviously, I missed the locker room, I missed the coaches and everyone here in the building. I know how important this five-day stretch is to (Head) Coach (Andy) Reid and everyone here in KC. It just didn’t feel right sitting at home and missing out on this. This is something that I want to be a part of. I was brought here to win Super Bowls and this week is very important to our progression.”
Brown was indeed brought in to win championships, although his first season in Kansas City was far from perfect. While he settled in by the end of the year and began playing much better football, the 26-year-old tackle struggled at various points in his debut campaign as a Chief and graded out as either average or slightly above-average depending on the site or system. It wasn't quite the level of play that many expected from a player the organization made a major splash trade for, but it also laid a foundation for improvement in the future.
For his efforts in 2021-22, Brown got a record-breaking contract offer from the team as far as average annual value and signing bonuses are concerned. On the flip side, however, the structure and guarantees in the deal proved to be serious hangups that prevented an agreement from getting finalized. Despite going through some emotional times throughout this process, Brown says he truly does love being on the Chiefs and thinks his situation could get sorted out in due time.
“I don’t want to get too detailed on that but very emotional," Brown said. "I’ve spoken to pretty much a lot of people here in the front office and (Head) Coach (Andy) Reid and everyone understands. I love ball, I love blocking for Pat Mahomes, I love putting the Chiefs logo on my helmet and I really enjoy being here. I know that time will tell, and things will get taken care of with time.”
Now that Brown's back, he and the Chiefs can continue preparing for a 2022 campaign that will feature a ton of challenges along the way. That applies to both sides of the ball — even Kansas City's offensive line that projects to have plenty of continuity carrying over from last year. Brown was a huge piece of that puzzle coming together, and his time away from the team makes him appreciate being back even more. That was a test in and of itself. He's looking forward to moving on.
“It’s always hard," Brown said. "Like I said, I pride myself on being a leader and I pride myself on being someone that wants to be here for his teammates. Showing up every day and bringing the most positive energy that I can bring to the locker room and on the field. It was difficult to be away from it for so long, but the understanding was that I had to do what I had to do.”