At various points earlier this offseason, it seemed possible that wide receiver would A.J. Brown catch passes from quarterback Tom Brady in 2020.
For many reasons, it made sense for both Brady and the Tennessee Titans. The record-setting quarterback was a friend and former teammate of Titans head coach Mike Vrabel. Brady, looking for a new home for the first time in his career, could have easily been intrigued by the Titans after their surprise run to the AFC Championship game, which included a win over him and his former team, the New England Patriots.
But Brady mania in Middle Tennessee ended when the Titans signed Ryan Tannehill to a four-year extension days before the free agent signing period. Days later, Brady joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
While Brown won’t be catching passes from Brady this season, he caught a piece of advice from the six-time Super Bowl champion and eventual Hall of Famer during a joint practice with the Patriots last August. Brown briefly spoke about the encounter during a video press conference with reporters Monday.
“Work on the things you know you need improvement on, so you don’t have any weaknesses,” Brown said. “Everybody works hard, but everybody knows what their weakness is.
“Credit to him. His long career and everything. He’s a Hall of Famer.”
As Brown begins his second NFL season, he has taken a get-better-at-everything approach after a breakout rookie season.
The 2019 second-round pick out of Ole Miss led all rookies with 1,051 receiving yards on 52 catches, tied for the NFL lead with eight receptions of 40 yards or more and became the first rookie of the Super Bowl era to average better than 20 yards per reception in a 1,000-yard season.
“There’s always something that comes up that you didn’t know as a weakness,” Brown said. “You just gotta work, though. It’s day-to-day. It never stops. You find something new to work on each and every day. That’s just my approach with it.”
With the regular season approaching, many, including Brown himself, have expressed this offseason that the ceiling could be higher.
From 2010-18, seven rookie wide receivers have eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving, and most have consistently produced in ensuing seasons.
At least two former NFL wide outs, Chad Johnson and James Jones, expect the 6-foot-1, 226-pound Brown to be in that category in year two.
“A.J Brown…..that’s the tweet for today because he’s a f****** animal...1,500 yard 2020 season & I’m taking that to Ceasar’s Palace,” Johnson, a six-time Pro Bowler, tweeted on June 14.
Added Jones recently: “This dude is going to lead the league in receiving yards and touchdowns, I truly believe that, in his second season as an NFL wide receiver. He is that talented, he is that strong, he is that big, he is that fast. He’s a monster out there on the football field.”
Brown said he never discloses his goals before a season starts, but he certainly didn’t balk as the possibility.
“Why not,” Brown said. “Why not me? That’s my approach with anything. Other guys do it, so why not? That’s as far as it goes for me. All I am going to say about that.”