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Nick Sirianni's Message to A.J. Brown for Titans Week: 'Go Be Yourself'

The WR will play against the team that drafted him and where he had so much success when Tennessee visits the Linc on Sunday

PHILADELPHIA - Every week around the NFL is a special one for someone.

In Indianapolis on Nov. 20, Nick Sirianni got emotional after outlasting his old team.

Last Sunday night, former Eagles’ third-round pick Rasul Douglas came back to Philadelphia, and Packers coach Matt LaFleur made sure to send him out to midfield for the opening coin toss.

This time, it’s A.J. Brown. 

Philadelphia’s star receiver will play the team that drafted him in 2019 and traded him to the Eagles during the first round of the 2022 draft back in April, the Tennessee Titans, on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Lincoln Financial Field.

“I think the constant reminder is, 'Hey, this game is big to us because it's our next one,” Sirianni said. “This game is big to us because we don't want to let each other down. You can't ride the waves of the season."

Sirianni's messaging has typically landed in what is turning into a special Eagles season.

"He doesn't have to do any more than just go out there and be himself," said the coach. "He doesn't have to press. He just has to go out there and do his job to the best of his ability with attention to detail.”

Things went south with Brown and the Titans after Tennessee, a run-first team, balked at giving him the deal that Philadelphia happily coughed up to the tune of $100 million.

Still just 25, Brown is signed through 2026.

"I’m always looking for the best with A.J. except for this Sunday or whenever we play against him," said Titans coach Mike Vrabel on a call with Eagles media on Wednesday.

"...He looks like he’s kind of picked up where he left off and has been able to have some catch-and-run and made some plays down the field and he’s been good for them in the red zone. It’ll be a huge challenge to try to defend him."

The results have been there for the Eagles, who are a league-best 10-1, while Tennessee has stayed good without Brown but maybe not quite as good.

 The Titans were the No. 1 seed in the AFC last season before faltering to Cincinnati in the playoffs and are currently leading the AFC South at 7-4 which makes them the No. 3 seed on that side of the docket after again falling to the Bengals last week.

“Regardless of how the trade and everything went down, I feel like me personally, I feel like I won,” Brown said. “I say that because, like I said, that changed my family life forever. 

"That’s the goal, especially growing up where I’m from. Of course, I want to do great and help us have a great game, but that’s the reason why we play the game.”

Brown typically does his best to temper his thoughts when it comes to Tennessee but there is little doubt that he felt slighted by an organization that took him in the second round and developed him into a difference-maker.

Sirianni is also cognizant of that and will try to make sure it feels like business as usual for Brown, who is coming off consecutive games in which he has uncharacteristically fumbled.

In Indianapolis, linebacker Zaire Franklin simply unleashed a perfect “Peanut punch” on the football that got Brown, and last week an illness that had Brown vomiting to the point he lost seven pounds and burst a blood vessel in his eye could have been a contributing factor.

“That’s the focus this week, like I said, being consistent,” said Brown. “... Me protecting the football, that’s something I can control. I think that’s my focus going forward. Like I said, I’m not going to change who I am with the ball in my hand, but I gotta do a little better job protecting the football.”

A silver lining to the uncharacteristic ball-security issues for Brown could be using that micro issue to shield the human nature aspect of wanting to get the best of your old flame.

“We don't want to let each other down, and so you got to prep for every game the same," said Siriani, "but naturally, human nature will take over, and that's my job as a coach to make sure that he knows he doesn't have to do anything more than just be A.J. Brown.

“That's why he's here. That's why we traded for him, that's why we paid him, because he's a phenomenal player. Just go be yourself. You don't have to do anything special because you're special enough to go out there and play.”

-John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's Eagles Today and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Football 24/7 and a daily contributor to ESPN South Jersey. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen