At the very last minute last week, just before the Patriots departed for the West Coast, Sergio Brownfound out he was making the trip. In fact, he'd be activated for the game against the San Diego Chargers, in part because veteran Jarrad Pagewas out with a calf injury.
First thing he did, even before packing his bags, was call his mother.
"As soon as I found out," Brown told reporters with a big smile. "She was screaming on the phone."
And what was his reaction?
"Little bit of anxiety ... It's your first game ever trying to play," he acknowledged. "Somebody just tells you and you're like, 'Oh, OK. I'm ready.'"
He sure was. Brown dove into his playbook, and when the game was on the line, Brown, filling in on defense for the injured Patrick Chung, came up with a tackle on All-Pro tight endAntonio Gatesthat essentially preserved the Patriots victory.
"We had to be aware of the down and distance. Once he came out of the backfield," the rookie safety explained, "I peeked at the quarterback for a second, and I saw him look over to Gates and I thought, 'Oh, my God … I have to get over there and make the stop.'"
He did, forcing the Chargers to attempt a game-tying field goal from 45 yards. A false start penalty moved them back an extra five, and replacement Chargers kicker Kris Brown pushed his 50-yard attempt into the right upright and it clanged to the ground. New England held on for the 23-20 win.
An impressive, memorable performance by the 6-2, 210-pound rookie from Notre Dame. Signed as an undrafted free agent in the spring, he started on the Patriots kickoff team each of the four preseason games before being assigned to the practice squad. He'd been there, biding his time, until last weekend when he was activated to the 53-man roster. A few days later, according to published reports, the Patriots rewarded Brown with a four-year contract.
Not a bad week.
"Of course you get disappointed," admitted Brown, "because you always want to play, but you still have to take the bad things out of every situation and get ready to play.
"Preseason and the regular season are nothing alike. Everybody steps their game up more. Those first few weeks I was able to sit back and observe, read all my keys, get more familiar with the defense, [opponents'] tendencies, all the little things to get ready to play … just wait my time."
Brown and the rest of New England's defensive backs are quite familiar with the tendencies of wide receiver Randy Moss, their former teammate whom they'll face as an opponent this week when the Minnesota Vikings invade Foxborough. In remarks to reporters this week, Moss made reference to perceived weaknesses in the Patriots defense.
"He can say whatever he wants to say. We just have to do our job the best we can," Brown responded.
"You get familiar with the player, and sometimes you have to play players and not plays. So, you kind of have a heads-up of what might happen or what he might do. But, I mean, he's familiar with us, too."
It was quite the entertaining five minutes or so when Wes Welkerhosted reporters for his weekly Q&A at his locker. Before heading out the door, the All-Pro receiver donned a purple jacket with white trim … the exact colors of this week's opponent.
"Ha … you know, I just threw this on," a somewhat stunned Welker confessed. "That's the way I go – open my closet, whatever I got, and go. I guess this is coincidence."
Welker was also clean-shaven for the first time in weeks. He and several of his teammates have, inexplicably, grown out-of-control beards.
"Yeah, yeah … yeah, that thing was getting nasty, so, I had to clean that up.
"I don't know what it was," he explained, "if it was a full moon, or what. Just trying something different."
There won't be a full moon this Sunday for Halloween, but Welker promised he's be wearing something appropriate for the holiday.
"I do, I do … I got a little something. I don't think we really have a party to go to, so … I may just be walking down the streets of Boston in my outfit."
Is it a Moss mask?
"Ha ha … that's too predictable," he replied. "I'm not going that route. It's going to be a Jersey Shore character."
"Yeah … no, that's my girlfriend."
Odds are, it's Pauly D, a native New Englander.
Fri 10/29 Practice Notebook
Injured safety Jarrad Page was spotted in the locker room today. For more details and other news and notes from Friday's practice, please visit the PFW Blog.