Seahawks left tackle Duane Brown has had a fairly quiet offseason. The four-time Pro Bowler feels fully-recovered from the high-ankle sprain that sidelined him through several weeks of practice last year – he expects to be healthy and ready for OTAs this May – and has spent most of his time relaxing. But life at home will soon become a bit more hectic.
“We’re actually expecting a newborn here in the next six to seven weeks,” Brown told 710 ESPN Seattle’s Bob, Groz and Tom. Brown and his wife, Devi, are having a boy. “So, [we’re] gearing up for that.”
Brown, 32, will also see changes in his professional life. This year, he’ll enter his first full season with the Seahawks (he landed in Seattle as part of a midseason trade last year, after spending nine season with the Texans). Now entering the last year of his deal, a contract extension isn’t out of the question for Brown and the Seahawks. He’s also going to be working with a new offensive line coach and system – his third in the last year.
“I came in last year halfway through the season, so I spent just a little time with (former line coach Tom Cable),” Brown said. “I think with him, he was moreso just trying to get me up to speed on the system, and not really so concerned about my technique as much.”
The Seahawks parted ways with Cable this offseason, hiring ex-Giants line coach Mike Solari in his place.
“When you have a new offensive line coach and you go through the whole offseason, OTAs, minicamp, training camp, I think after talking to [Solari] a little bit there are some things that I want to improve; there are some things that he would like to tweak a little bit just to elevate my game as much as I can. And I’m very open-minded to all coaching up and criticism to elevate my game. That’s a thing that, if you’re not in it for that reason, then you’re going to plateau and not get any better.”
‘The game is the game’
The NFL has instituted a new rule that will call for a 15-yard penalty if a player initiates contact by lowering his helmet. He could also face possible ejection. The rule has drawn criticism from fans and players alike, Brown included.
“I’m not sure what the committee’s like that puts these rules into place, but I don’t think people really understand the speed of the game and understand how fast guys react to breaking on the ball or, as a running back, trying to run over a tackle or someone that comes into your vision at the last second,” Brown said.
“Your first instinct is to duck your head. That’s a pretty severe penalty, to possibly get ejected. You know what’s coming along with that is a large chunk of change out of your check. It’s tough. As a lineman, I really feel for guys that have to play those positions that you potentially have one of those penalties every play. It’s hard, man.”
The league’s competition committee claimed the rule was passed in an effort to make the game safer. Brown, though, feels that outside of improvements to helmets or other advancements, there are limits to how truly effective a new rule can be when it comes to player safety.
“It’s a game that we’ve all been playing for a long time. There’s certain elements of the game that just make it a violent sport. And then you add the fact that every few years you’re getting guys that are bigger and stronger and faster than guys of the previous decade. You combine those things, and there’s not really much you can do. The game is the game.”
‘I know the level of expectation I have for myself’
The Seahawks will face a revamped NFC West this season. Competition is especially stiff on the defensive side of the ball. The Rams have made perhaps the biggest additions, signing All Pro cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters, and star defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
How closely does Brown follow additions to other teams?
“I’m very aware of it,” Brown said. “They made some big time moves. I’ve competed against all those guys, great competitors and definitely upgrade that defense, for sure. As a lineman, you get guys like Ndamukong Suh and Aaron Donald paired together, it motivates you. That’s how I looked at it. I was excited when I saw that move because I know what we have to prepare for. I know the level of expectation that I have for myself and for us upfront. And so I’m looking forward to that challenge.”