Eagles' Brown eager to be a solid option at running back

Posted: September 16, 2013

WHEN THE Eagles selected LeSean McCoy in the second round of the 2009 NFL draft, it was not long until he became one of the league's elite running backs. As for the McCoy's backup, Bryce Brown, the journey to establishing himself as elite is yet to be determined.

In his rookie campaign last year, Brown showed flashes of excellence, rushing for 564 yards and four touchdowns. Brown served as the Eagles' second option at running back and stepped in for McCoy when he was sidelined with a concussion.

"I think he kind of showed everybody what he could do last year in the time he played," McCoy said. "I think he's a good back. I feel very comfortable coming off the field and letting him run, and I think it's a good 1-2 punch."

Last season, Brown also struggled at times holding on to the ball. He had four fumbles, losing three. During the offseason and training camp, he worked on learning to better secure the football. Additionally, he has worked on increasing his stamina to succeed in coach Chip Kelly's fast-paced offense.

"The main thing for me has been trying to get into better shape, to last later in the game and for the long haul," Brown said. "It's a long season, and this game is very physical, so I think being in shape will help my all-around game."

With the work that Brown has put in, Kelly thinks Brown can be a valuable asset for the Eagles. In their 33-27 win over Washington on Monday night, Brown carried the ball nine times for 25 yards.

Although McCoy gets most of the carries in the backfield, Kelly said before practice Thursday he would like to see Brown get more, ultimately reducing the heavy workload on McCoy.

"No, we don't talk about it. Just how the game is going to express itself," Kelly said. "We know we need to get other guys in there, but we've got to see Bryce a little bit more, but we haven't talked about, 'Are there a certain number of carries for him?' "

The Eagles selected Brown in the seventh round of the 2011 draft after he recorded only 16 yards in his only game for Kansas State. Regarded in 2008 as the No. 1 recruit in the country, Brown's route to the NFL was unusual. He left Tennessee after his freshman season and played one game K-State because of transfer and injury issues.

"I really don't like to talk about my past," Brown said. "Obviously, I learned from it and it happened and I'm over with, but I will take advantage of the opportunities given to me with the Philadelphia Eagles, and my time here has been wonderful and great so far and I am only trying to improve on that."

Growing up, Brown received guidance from his older brother, Arthur Brown, who was selected by the Baltimore Ravens in the second round of the 2013 draft out of Kansas State. Arthur, a linebacker for Baltimore, dreamed of playing in the NFL with Bryce.

"My brother is a good person. We are real close and only 11 months apart, so we grew up real tight with some of the same friends and we did everything together," Brown said. "As far as football and things like that, I think his asset as my brother helped me out beyond football. He is my spiritual mentor, and I think his role as that has helped me more than anything to do with football."

Much of the attention Bryce got growing up came from playing football alongside Arthur in Wichita, Kan. Brown, 22, also credits hard work and dedication with allowing him to live his dream of playing in the NFL. His teammates have noticed those qualities.

"He's just a humble kid. As far as having a big head, he's fine," McCoy said. "The only time I really have to help him out is on football questions and trying to help him with things differently and simplify things for him; that's really it. He is a fast learner and is always willing to work."

For now, expect to see Brown in the backfield as the Eagles' second option against San Diego tomorrow and moving forward this season. Whether it is as a backup or as a starter in the future, Brown plans on working toward becoming an elite NFL back, beginning with earning an increased workload behind McCoy.

"I can't say what the Eagles want to do, but I definitely see myself as a starting running back in this league, whether it is here or somewhere else," Brown said. "I definitely think I have the talent to do so, but right now I am just working and continuing to get there."

Birdseed

The Eagles announced that cornerback Bradley Fletcher, as expected, will miss tomorrow's game with a concussion. Brandon Boykin is expected to start in Fletcher's place. In nickel, Boykin probably will move inside and Brandon Hughes or Jordan Poyer will play outside . . . LeSean McCoy was named the FedEx Ground Player of the Week after rushing 31 times for 184 yards against Washington.

Daily News sports writer Les Bowen contributed to this report.

On Twitter: @JohnMurrow12

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