Andre Brown is not the type of player to go down without a fight.
After being cut eight times throughout his NFL career, the bruising Brown finally got an opportunity last season with the New York Giants after Ahmad Bradshaw went down with an injury in a week 2 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Brown made the most of his opportunity rushing for 385 yards and 8 touchdowns on 73 carries before an injury ended his season in week 12. Now with Ahmad Bradshaw in Indianapolis, Brown prepares for his first NFL season in a starting role. In between a demanding training camp schedule Andre Brown caught up with Empire Writes Back columnist Kevin Metz to discuss his performance last season, why he is going to be better this year, and his outlook for the upcoming NFL season.
EWB: You were cut 8 different times before breaking out with the Giants last year. Did you always know you would eventually get the opportunity to show what you can do, or were there times where you doubted if it would ever happen?
AB: I remained faithful, I believe in god so you know god puts obstacles in our way. So its just another challenge and adversity, and I just took it as that and continued to work hard. I was fortunate enough that it ended up working out.
EWB: How different does training camp feel this year, knowing you’re a big part of the Giants running game?
AB: I took my off-season as I do every year. I worked hard and I go out there and make sure that I work on my individual game so I can come here and bring my talents to the team. You know I guess I would say I had a little sense of comfort, but you can never get too comfortable with being in this league, you know people get cut everyday. I just always take my time during the off-season as if this was going to be my last season, so I just went out there and worked hard during the off-season and now I’m ready to go.
EWB: During week 3 last season you had a breakout performance on Thursday Night Football against the Carolina Panthers where you rushed for 113 yards and 2 touchdowns. Was it any sweeter having a game like that against one of the teams that cut you?
AB: It was. The sweetest thing was just to go out there and have my first start and showing the world that I’m a good back and I can produce in this league. That was more satisfying than playing against the Panthers. I mean, I know they cut me, so I’m not gonna sit here and lie to you that it wasn’t in the back of my head and I didn’t want to run over them or run a little more angry, but I was just fortunate enough that that happened, it also set up for what’s to come.
EWB: Obviously you and your backfield mate David Wilson are different types of backs. Why do you think the combination of your skills will make this years Giants running game a special one?
AB: Because like you said we’re both different types of backs. I’m more downhill; you know Dave is so explosive he can turn a 5 yard gain into a 60 yard touchdown. For me you know, if it’s me beating up the defense, pounding the ball, and then a change of pace and Dave running by the defense after I’ve beat them up or he’s [Wilson] running by them and now it’s my turn to beat up the defense it’s going to be a good mix and I’m definitely looking forward to it.
EWB: What are your goals for the 2013 season?
AB: I’m not going to set personal goals because I don’t want to sell myself short of anything that I’ve done. So I’m just going to go out there and be ready to produce. I’m ready to help this team win championships, because that’s really what it’s all about.
EWB: What was the one area you wanted to improve this off-season?
AB: Definitely pass-blocking. Being a third down back that’s something that would definitely be beneficial to our team. How I worked on that was just a couple of agility drills, and basketball one-on-one type stuff so I’m making sure that my pad level is down enough and I can punch up so I can be able to help out on that part so I can keep Eli clean. You can’t really do contact in the off-season but you can work on your foot placement and making sure that you’re ready. I also worked on conditioning because me and Dave are going to see a lot more running opportunities so I want to be ready in case we ever do want to run the ball 30 or 40 times a game.
EWB: For fans who might not be familiar with what you can bring to the table, tell us what to expect out of Andre Brown this year on the football field?
AB: I’m a downhill, powerful running back with hands, who can score on goal line. I’m a big back but what I’m really trying to do is show to everybody that I can hit a 60 yard touchdown this year too. I’m just looking forward to this being another opportunity for me to go out there and showcase my talents and I’m just really prepared and ready to go.
EWB: Growing up, which RBs did you look up too and try to model your game after?
AB: This is early 90’s when Bo Jackson was playing football, I mean I was a youngen’ but my cousin was a big Bo Jackson fan so I remember watching highlights of him playing. And you know Emmitt Smith was a great back to watch, the way he read his blocks and made sure he was setting up the defenders to where the offensive line can get to them and he can make the cut off them. As far as modeling my game after somebody those are definitely the guys I wanted to be like.
EWB: What’s your favorite sport besides football?
AB: Definitely Baseball.
EWB: Something fans would be surprised to learn about Andre Brown?
AB: That I’m big into fishing, I like to fish a lot.
EWB: Biggest fish you ever caught?
AB: A Catfish, which I think was in North Carolina, that was about 17-18 pounds, that was the biggest fish I ever caught.
EWB: That’s a pretty big Cat Fish.
AB: (Laughs) Yeah, I know, but I haven’t ever really been out in the Ocean, you know deep sea fishing, I’m more of a lake/pond type of guy.
EWB: What would it be like to play in a Superbowl at Met Life Stadium come February?
AB: That would be an awesome feeling because that being our stadium, and being the first team to actually host the Superbowl and be able to play in the Superbowl would be an amazing feeling. We just have to go out there and work hard, and hopefully we come full circle since we’re starting the season here, to end it here would be an awesome feeling.