For the first three years of his career, Brown could only dream of a 113-yard, two-touchdown performance like the one he had in the Giants' 36-7 win over the Carolina Panthers on Thursday night.
Brown’s first NFL start came after three years of frustration and countless setbacks that began with his first training camp in 2009.
“That’s when I ruptured my Achilles,” said Brown, who was originally drafted by the Giants out of N.C. State in the fourth round. “I was up there at Albany, at the end of practice, before my first preseason game, and it was a jog through.”
Following the injury, Brown was placed on IR, only to get cut seven times before eventually signing with and staying on the Giants practice squad throughout the 2011 season.
He accumulated a mountain of official NFL merchandise during his travels -- free sweats, t-shirts, etc. -- but he never really had the opportunity to master an NFL offense. Turns out some sage advice from relatives kept Brown in the right place.
“My family said, ‘They believe in you, stay here, learn the offense,’” Brown said.
The Giants already had RBs Ahmad Bradshaw, Brandon Jacobs, D.J. Ware and Da’Rel Scott on the roster, but Brown stayed, turning down offers from the Arizona Cardinals, Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints.
“It really helped me understand concepts, defenses and stuff like that,” Brown said of what he referred to as his “redshirt year.”
The Giants rewarded Brown’s patience despite the fact that he lost a fumble in the final preseason game this year.
With Jacobs and Ware are gone, rookie David Wilson new to the offense, Scott battling knee issues and Bradshaw hurting his neck in Week 2 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Brown is finally getting his chance.
He has 184 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 33 carries to go with five receptions for 36 yards.
Coach Tom Coughlin said he envisions a role for Brown even as Wilson gets more experienced and Bradshaw gets healthy.
“Leave it up to the coaches,” Brown said. “Once Ahmad gets back, we still got Dave. I still feel like he hasn’t been unleashed yet. I’m just a different style of running back and wherever I have to go and whatever I have to do, I’m ready to do it.”