If you can produce a scale, Philly Brown is willing to step on it to prove his weight.
Before the Carolina Panthers’ conditioning tests Wednesday, the players all weighed in at the start of training camp. The 6-foot Brown, who played wide receiver at 180 pounds last season, tipped the scales at 200 pounds and gleefully tweeted about it.
“Made my personal camp goal of 200 pounds!!! DIFFERENT PRODUCT,” he wrote.
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It may be tough to believe Brown is pushing two bills after watching the relatively small, undrafted receiver play two seasons for the Panthers. But he’s carrying the weight in his chest and biceps after months of meal preparation and strength training.
“Just lifting,” he said Thursday at Wofford College. “Me and (head athletic trainer Ryan Vermillion) and the weight staff, every day this offseason, I might have gotten one vacation. I was here rehabbing my shoulder so I just lifted and focused on meal plans.”
The reason for the weight gain is twofold. The first is Brown simply got tired of getting small injuries.
Brown has appeared on Carolina’s injury report 11 times in his two seasons with the team. Along with various illnesses and a concussion that sat him out for three games his rookie year, Brown has had ankle and shoulder ailments in his two-year career.
He appeared on the injury report twice in 2014 with a shoulder injury, and in 2015 he appeared three times while missing two of those games because of his shoulder.
“It’s the little injuries. Little nicks and bruises when you fall too hard and (stuff) is hurting,” Brown said. “It’s more about that. Bulking up and being able to take the punishment.”
Surgery behind him
The shoulder nagged at him throughout the season, and after Super Bowl 50 he had surgery on it. At organized team activities and minicamp the injury relegated Brown to individual and positional drills.
“I hate missing football. I feel like I’ve been out forever,” Brown said. “Not even finishing the Super Bowl, I feel like I haven’t played in a team period in forever.”
Brown was knocked out of the Super Bowl when he grabbed a 42-yard pass from Newton against Denver but concussed himself upon going to the ground.
But that catch – the second-longest play in Super Bowl 50 – isn’t the most memorable play in which Brown was involved. In the second quarter, Brown hauled in a 13-yard pass inside the 5 but was brought down by his facemask by Denver safety Aqib Talib.
Talib later said the facemask was on purpose to prevent Brown from scoring, and the NFL fined Talib for it. Brown decided to save his words for Talib until the week leading up to their Sept. 8 showdown, though he had previously tweeted that Talib was an “immature pro.”
“I’m not too worried about him right now,” Brown said. “I’m just focused on making the team, securing a role and helping these other wideouts get better. When that Denver week comes, we can talk about that more.”
The other reason for the weight gain – the one more relevant to the Carolina Panthers’ 2016 season – is to better play his position.
Last year Brown played mostly as the No. 2 receiver because of the season-ending injury to Kelvin Benjamin and the learning curve for then-rookie Devin Funchess. Now, with Benjamin and Funchess firmly in the No. 1 and 2 roles, Brown is expected to play in the slot.
That role will look more like Jerricho Cotchery’s last season, and Brown had to get stronger.
“Hits, releases, blocking, it comes down to everything,” said Brown, who promised the weight won’t take away from his speed. “Especially playing the F (receiver position), which Cotch played last year, you have to do more interior blocking so you need to be a bigger person.”
Asked before Thursday’s practice how much stronger he is today than last season, Brown paused a moment while linebacker Thomas Davis walked by.
“T.D. is gonna find out in a minute,” Brown said.