Cam Newton completes a long pass over the middle at practice Monday. Corey Brown catches it. Later in the same practice Derek Anderson completes a longer pass down the right sideline. Brown catches it.
Who’s the Carolina Panthers’ best deep threat?
“Everybody,” Brown says Tuesday after practice. “All the receivers equally. I feel like we have so many receivers that can do it.”
But isn’t being the deep threat what you do best?
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“I guess if that’s what you want to call it,” says Brown, who wears a black Billionaire Boys Club T-shirt. “I feel that I’m a decent overall receiver, a guy that runs decent routes and catches the ball across the middle and everything. I don’t mind going deep if that’s what’s going to keep me here.”
Last season Brown went by Philly, a name given to him at Ohio State to distinguish from another receiver named Brown. Philly Brown was willing to tell you that he could play.
This season, Brown has reverted to his pre-Buckeye name, which is Corey. Corey is modest.
“No, I’m not being modest,” Brown says. “When I answered the deep ball question, I’m being honest when it comes to that. There are that many guys who can do it in our (receivers’) room. If you were to ask me who’s the fastest guy on the team, I would say me.”
Over Ted Ginn Jr.?
“Over everybody,” Brown says. “I wouldn’t just point one person out. But I say I’m faster than all of them.”
We have an upset here. Some Panthers will tell you they’re the team’s faster player – except for Ginn. Nobody says he’s the fastest player – except for Brown.
Told this, Brown says: “Just got to check the GPS. That shows the mph.”
Players neither claim to bench press the most nor to have the team’s highest vertical leap.
Yet safety Colin Jones says he’s the fastest Panther – except for the 30-year-old Ginn. Brandon Wegher claims he’s the fastest running back.
Why is speed different?
“Speed is really the only thing that has to do with football,” Brown says. “When you talk about bench press and all that other stuff, that doesn’t really mean that much in football.
“You’re never going to bench press a guy on the field. But when it comes to speed, that’s kind of what people measure each other off of.”
Whatever the standard of measurement, the Panthers like what Brown offers. He’ll start at wide receiver opposite 6-5 Kelvin Benjamin against Miami on Saturday. If the regular season began today, Brown would start.
In some packages he’ll play with Ginn. In others, Brown, who is listed at 5-11 and 180 pounds, will be joined by 6-4 rookie Devin Funchess.
Benjamin and Ginn were first-round draft choices and Funchess was selected in the second round. Brown was not drafted out of Ohio State in 2014 because scouts doubted that his lean body could take the pounding to which NFL receivers are exposed. As the draft wore on, Brown says he didn’t want to be selected. He wanted to choose his next employer.
He chose the Panthers because they had released three receivers and, Brown says, told him, “If you come in and show us that you can play, you will play.”
Brown played in 13 games as a rookie, averaged 14.1 yards a reception and caught two touchdown passes. He also returned a punt 79 yards for a touchdown.
Brown says he caught the eye of coaches by catching deep passes. That was his role last season. Go deep and attract defenders.
“This year I’m more open (to) going across the middle, (and running) drags, hitches, slants, comebacks, everything,” he says.
Brown says Carolina has five or six receivers who could start, and he approaches the job as if it’s disposable.
“That’s how I always feel, man,” he says. “That’s how I always approach everything. You can never be too complacent. Nobody’s safe. On any given day this could all be taken away from you. So I come in with the mindset that I gotta work, gotta get better, gotta get better than I was the previous day.”
Brown’s session with the media ends, and he stands to leave the room. But there’s a question we neglected to ask, and since he doesn’t walk as fast as he runs, I ask it.
Who’s the second fastest Panther?
“Ted Ginn,” Brown says.