After spending a year helping out behind the scenes, Troy Brown officially became part of the Patriots coaching staff in 2020. "Troy spent the year with us last year, and of course has a tremendous amount of experience here," remarked head coach Belichick on Friday's video conference to Patriots.com's Megan O'Brien.
The Patriots fifth-all-time leading receiver was often seen aiding his former position group in 2019, but this season he'll have more focus on the running backs and returners, though Belichick still expected Brown to wear a few different hats. Simplified, Brown will play a central role in grooming the next generation of Patriots offensive playmakers.
"He'll continue to work with other positions, as well – the returners and the slot receivers," said Belichick. "But just given the conversations I've had with Troy, he's very eager, he is a very instinctive football player and coach, I think that he was always great with the ball in his hands as a runner, he was obviously a great receiver, and I think that's a big part of every running back's job, and he was a strong player in the kicking game, as well."
Brown's dynamic return abilities we instrumental in early Super Bowl runs and now he'll have a young group of returners looking to improve on 2019's output. Last year's primary kickoff returner Brandon Bolden has reportedly opted out, opening the door to a host of potential candidates including undrafted rookies Jeff Thomas and J.J. Taylor, who combined for 95 kickoff returns in college.
Punt returner Gunner Olszewski should be back after averaging 9.0 yards-per-return on 20 returns in an injury-shortened rookie year. Brown's guidance will be critical to help Olszewski build on that season, while free agent addition Damiere Byrd has some punt return experience as well.
With four second-year players and three intriguing undrafted rookies, there will be plenty of youth for Brown to work with at his various positions. As the Patriots look to build a new wave of weaponry, it's nice to know a team legend like Brown will play a big part.