There’s a lot of excitement that came with the Kansas City Chiefs’ trade for two-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. — and deservedly so. He’s been a good player during his young NFL career — and has the pedigree that comes from his father’s career as a cornerstone offensive tackle.
The Chiefs dealt a first-round pick for him to be their left tackle, trusting that he can make the transition from the Baltimore Ravens’ run-heavy scheme. Brown has been working all offseason to get accustomed to his new offense, motivated to prove that he can excel in his new environment.
“I look forward to being able to get rid of that stigma of ‘this guy can’t play left tackle in a pass-first offense,’” Brown admitted to reporters after practice on Tuesday. “That’s what I look forward to: blocking guys one-on-one, all of those different situations in those passing scenarios to take advantage of — and really just showcase my ability and my talent.”
Through video clips of one-on-one pass-rush drills between offensive and defensive linemen during training camp, we’ve had a sneak peek of what is to come from Brown. In these limited looks, Brown has had his ups and downs going against Chris Jones, Frank Clark and others.
But Brown set the record straight on how people should perceive those drills.
“I really use that drill as an opportunity to work on whatever I’m going to work on,” he said. “I’m not necessarily approaching it to win, I’m approaching it to work on my technique that I’m set working on for that day — whether that be super aggressive with my feet, super aggressive with my hands, punching, stuff like that... Chris is a freak man, his abilities and what he can do — I’m sure he’s going to have a great year. I’m just glad he’s on my team.”
His coaches admire his ability to work on things and fix his mishaps as he goes — as offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy pointed out to reporters on Monday.
“Orlando’s doing a very good job,” Bieniemy stated. “I know those guys are doing some things, learning some communication, but the thing that I’m impressed about is that the mistakes that he does make, he doesn’t repeat them — so that’s a great sign.”
That aspect of Brown speaks to his football intelligence. He’s aware of the mental nuances that come with playing tackle at the professional level — something that Bieniemy noticed right away.
“I remember when he came in when we signed him, and you could tell the football IQ just by sitting down and discussing things with him,” said Bieniemy. “When he’s done, I’m going to ask him if he wants to coach — because he’s very, very smart. On top of that, it’s just the little things: he always wants to know what can he do to improve, what can he do to help himself get better — and if he is doing something we don’t like, let him know. Those are the things that make him special.”
The opening preseason game of the year — on the road against the San Francisco 49ers — is coming up on Saturday. I will be the first chance for Chiefs fans to see Brown in a live-game situation. We’ll only get to see a drive or two with Brown on the field, but he still has specific things in mind he wants to show his new fanbase.
“My tone-setting, my mindset, my mentality, and my consistency,” Brown listed. “I don’t know how long I’ll be out there; however long it is, I’m going to give it my all. I just look forward to being able to showcase and express all those different abilities in my game.”
It’ll also be a great opportunity for the starting offensive line to get live-game repetitions together. With Lucas Niang currently playing over the injured Mike Remmers at right tackle, the five-man group is completely new to playing alongside each other. Brown said it’ll be a good step towards building its group identity.
“The identity of the room is getting there,” he reflected. “I don’t think we’re quite there yet. We’re definitely gelling as a group, the five that have been up there for the past week or so. From an identity standpoint, we just want to be tough, consistent and physical — and we want to fly to the ball.”
As an individual, it’s clear that Brown wants to establish his own identity as a top-shelf left tackle. He’s very passionate about proving that he can protect quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ blind side.
You may not think a veteran with Brown’s experience needs the preseason — but in this case, he’ll take every possible exhibition snap in order to perfect his craft at a new position.