Carolina Panthers receiver Philly Brown stuck around after Tuesday’s organized team activities session to catch passes from receivers coach Ricky Proehl.
Brown can do the individual and positional drills, but he has to stand on the sidelines during team period because of offseason shoulder surgery.
He caught dozens of passes from Proehl on Tuesday after practice, and he threw each one back to the coach underhanded.
“I’m just not going to throw the ball with it. I’ve caught passes out here. I’m fine,” Brown said, demonstrating that he can lift his left arm above his head in different directions. “It’s just a matter of being more cautious with it rather than me getting hurt. I’d rather get hurt in a game than get hurt in OTAs.”
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No one wants to see Brown get hurt anywhere, but that’s unfortunately been part of his story during his first two seasons. He has appeared on the injury report 11 times in his first two seasons for injuries varying from his ankle to his shoulder to illness and concussion.
He suffered his first concussion in the 2014 season, and his second one came on one of the biggest plays in his career.
With the Panthers down 16-7 in the third quarter of Super Bowl 50, quarterback Cam Newton looked deep for Brown on a post route, on first down from the 20. Brown leapt and won the ball against Denver safety T.J. Ward for a gain of 42 yards.
The completion got the Panthers across midfield, but it left Brown with a concussion.
“From what I remember,” Brown recalled Tuesday, “he threw the ball and I remember going up, getting it, coming down, hitting my head and after that, shoot, I don’t really remember much after that.
“I remember going to the hospital.”
Brown can’t exactly remember how long he was concussed, but he remembers bits and pieces from after the play, the second-longest of the Super Bowl for the Panthers.
He remembers the Panthers eventually getting a field goal to tighten the score to 16-10. And he remembers “about 30 doctors” going in and out of the room to keep him updated on the score.
Eventually, one of the doctors broke the news of the loss to him.
“I was hurt. Everybody was hurt,” Brown said. “They told me we were 16-10 and we had the ball. We had been in situations like that all year. It’s nothing new for Cam and Greg (Olsen) and Ted (Ginn Jr.). I’m thinking we’re going to come through.
“So obviously that hurt, and it hurt for everyone else. Especially for me not to be able to be out there with them, it hurt a little more.”
A season of progress
Brown was an integral part of Carolina’s run last season. After going undrafted out of Ohio State in 2014 and making a relatively good impact in 13 games for an undrafted rookie, Brown assumed a starting role in 2015 and caught 31 passes for 447 yards and four touchdowns in the regular season.
He was one of the most consistent pass-catchers for Carolina in the postseason, too. His 10 catches on 19 targets for 215 yards included an 86-yard touchdown against the Cardinals in the NFC Championship game.
Like fellow receivers Kelvin Benjamin and Stephen Hill, Brown doesn’t participate in team drills during OTAs and likely won’t at minicamp in two weeks.
After individual and positional drills, the three receivers stand beside Proehl during team period and take mental reps. Brown promises to be 100 percent by training camp in late July.
Bigger things ahead?
For now he’s on the mend looking forward to an even bigger season. Because he went undrafted, Brown is in the final year of his three-year rookie deal worth $1.54 million. He’s set to make $600,000 this season before becoming a restricted free agent.
And for what Brown means to this offense with his speed, his value could continue to rise so long as he stays healthy.
“He has an opportunity to be that guy to help stretch the field,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. “You’ve got Teddy on one side, him on the other and Kelvin digging in through the middle or Devin Funchess going across or the deep overs with those two guys crossing. Those types of things open up so much underneath and now Greg Olsen becomes even more dangerous, (or) dumping the ball to the back, and it makes people more aware.
“That’s the beauty of getting Kelvin back. Now all of a sudden you throw that other guy into the mix and everyone is going, holy blank, how are we going to defend them? I’m excited about that.”