- Mike DiRocco, ESPN Staff Writer
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Not that Brown caught four passes for 49 yards, but the fact he was on the field for all but five of the Jaguars’ offensive snaps despite only having practiced minimally since he suffered a fractured vertebra in his back in the season opener.
That shows how intelligent he is and how smoothly he has made the transition from quarterback to receiver, Shorts said.
"The thing about him, he’s so smart," Shorts said. "He hasn’t played since Week 1. No reps at all, barely practiced last week, and came in and didn’t miss a beat in the game because he knew where he had to be. He just knew wherever he had to be and that’s a credit to him just being smart and understanding the playbook."
Brown credits his background as a quarterback as the main reason. He’s still learning the little things about playing receiver, but he understands route concepts and how to beat zone coverage and that’s been a huge help.
"I think everything’s about perspective," he said. "From a quarterback’s perspective you have to not only just know the routes but understand why they’re doing certain things. Not all receivers by any chance, but I think some receivers probably may not fully understand why am I running this route on this play? Who are we trying to get open?
"So just understanding the big picture really helped me from having my quarterback perspective lining up at receiver. I kind of know what the quarterback is looking for, what he’s expecting, timing, stuff like that."
It wasn’t long ago that Brown was a quarterback. He finished his career at Liberty fifth on the school’s all-time passing touchdown list (45), sixth in passing yards (6,072), and set a school record for career completion percentage (65.0). He was a two-time Big South Player of the Year and was twice a candidate for the Walter Payton Award, which is essentially the Football Championship Subdivision’s Heisman Trophy.
But he knew his NFL career was as a receiver and he was willing to make the change. He signed with the Jaguars as an undrafted rookie on May 7, 2012, was waived in the final cuts, and resigned to the practice squad on Sept. 1. He was signed to the active roster and played in the final two games last season.
He made his first career catch in the 2013 season opener against Kansas City before injuring his back and sat out the next four weeks.
But against the Broncos, he looked like he hadn’t missed any time at all.
"I felt pretty good, a lot better than I expected," Brown said. "Everything’s holding up pretty well so I’m pretty excited."
Brown could get a similar amount of work against San Diego on Sunday because Shorts is battling a painful injury to the SC joint near his right shoulder and slot receiver Ace Sanders (concussion) will not play. Brown is more of a slot receiver than outside receiver, so he’ll definitely be getting Sanders’ reps anyway.
"I came into the game [against Denver] just kind of as -- I don’t want to say extra guy because there was a couple plays here and there that were in for me, but definitely not [expecting] as many [snaps] as I had," Brown said. "But I always prepare to be able to [take] every snap just because you saw what happened. You’re only one play away at all times."