Former U of L linebacker Preston Brown making an immediate impact in NFL

By on September 23, 2014

By Haley O’Shaughnessy

Just three weeks into his National Football League career with the Bills, former Louisville linebacker Preston Brown is not afraid to tackle a vocal leadership role on defense– even as a rookie.

“It’s fun seeing those guys in the huddle looking at me. I mean, they are 29, 30 years old, looking at me like I don’t know what I’m saying,” Brown said. “But that’s why I have to make sure I study my stuff every week. I have to know the ins-and-outs of the offense so I can go out there and give those guys faith in me. I need to feed all the right energy to them.”

Brown, six-foot-one and 251 pounds, is already yards past his rook- ie status. He leads the Bills in tackles with 31, 16 of which are solo tackles. A week one suspension of linebacker Nigel Bradham and a week two injury of strong side linebacker Keith Rivers forced Brown to fill in for both. Lucky for the Bills, he has the versatility that allows him to play those veteran spots.

“I’m really just having fun being the young guy playing different posi- tions,” Brown said. “I played multiple linebacker positions at Louisville, so it’s the same type of system. I’m just having fun moving around week-to- week.”

Brown, who was a four-year starter for the Cardinals, moved to and from every linebacker role during his tenure at U of L. His freshman and sopho- more years, he was placed at strong side, also called the Sam linebacker, and weak side, which is commonly re- ferred to as Will. His junior and senior seasons, though, he found his purpose most at middle linebacker.

“Middle is always fun — having that

control, making that call,” Brown said. “Will and Sam, you’re kind of more free to run around and just have fun. Being a Mike [middle], you have to be a leader and take control.”

No matter which of the three he filled, the Bills have trusted him- and him alone- with every snap. Natu- rally, this responsibility brings some nerves, but Brown prefers to call it be- ing “overly cautious.” After two wins, a fumble recovery and 31 tackles, though, it appears that any discom- fort has dissolved, and he is as ready to play as he was in college. In fact, his pregame ritual so far has been watch- ing his alma mater the night before his games.

“I’ve watched all three of the Lou- isville games. I’ll sit there in my hotel room, on the computer, and make sure I watch them to see what those guys are doing. They’ve been doing really well on defense, even when they’ll let them in the red zone. It’s a good thing to see, those guys still firing away, still keeping up the leadership and making sure defense is still a strong piece of the team.”

Brown led that very defense in tack- les his senior year with 98, 71 of which were solo. He still talks with his former squad, especially his fellow defenders.

“I definitely keep in touch with the linebackers, with Keith Kelsey, James Burgess and Keith Brown. I’ll talk to them all the time in a group message just making sure they’re alright and seeing how they’re doing.”

Staying true to Brown and his old teammates, though, there’s never too much seriousness.

“I like to see how many tackles they have, then make fun of them because they don’t have that many. I always have fun talking to those guys.”

Although he never played under Bobby Petrino, Brown sees his former program heading in the right direction. Brown is fond of his experience at Louisville, crediting it and past coach Charlie Strong for how well prepared he was to enter the NFL.

“When I came into Louisville, I was 17. I was just a young kid. I couldn’t even sign my papers; I had to fax them to my mom to even play. I didn’t really know that much. But at Louisville, we took etiquette classes and classes about daily life,” Brown said.

“We had a lady come in twice a year. She taught us how to properly eat with a fork, what knife to use, everything. I picked up interviewing skills, how to write a resume… Coach Strong helped on the football field and also on the side, growing up, being a man.”

Brown still keeps in touch with the defensive-minded Strong, now the head coach at the University of Texas. The conversations will range from the football season to the coach’s con- tacts in New York, and everything in between. Strong was one of the first phone calls Brown received after the NFL draft, in which he was selected 73rd overall.

Brown sees Strong taking all the familiar steps with his team at Texas, and his former Cardinal linebacker is confident that it is all for the better.

“He kind of did the same thing when he came to Louisville, just trying to set

an example and show that it doesn’t matter who you are if you’re not doing the proper things to be in the program. In the long run, it’s going to help out Texas. They’ll get it together.”

As for where Brown predicts Petri- no and Louisville will end up this sea- son, he remains optimistic.

“I’m just hoping they can win the rest of these games, because there are a lot of Clemson and Florida State play- ers on the Bills. I hear a lot of trash talking in the locker room.”

Inside the locker room, Brown says the atmosphere is similar to college. Outside the locker room, it is a much different story.

It is nearly impossible for any player in the NFL to ignore the criticism the organization has drawn of late. Brown is no different, unsure of what is to come for the players, but sure of what he stands for.

“Everybody has different situations, and everyone was raised differently. I was raised to respect women from my mom, so that’s something that I’ll nev- er get involved with and that I don’t feel is right. But everyone is entitled to having their due process, and that’s what they’re doing right now.”

But while the NFL is catching bad attention, Preston Brown is catching every running back, tight end or wide receiver he is assigned to—and a posi- tive buzz because of it.

Photo by Austin Lassell / The Louisville Cardinal

About Noah Allison

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *