Tony Brown has been putting in work during the Green Bay Packers‘ training camp practices, and it’s not passed under Aaron Rodgers’ radar.
The second-year cornerback has been taking first-team reps with Josh Jackson’s foot landing him on the non-football injury list and Kevin King missing recent practices with a hamstring issue.
But while Brown has been making plenty of impressions with his play — he made his career first Lambeau Leap after a pick-six during Packers Family Night — Rodgers singled him out for qualities that stretch beyond the field and didn’t hold back heaping on the praise.
“He’s loud. I love Tony,” Rodgers said Tuesday via The Athletic‘s Matt Schneidman. “Tony is a really great part of the locker room. If there’s ever a time when you’re like, ‘Argh, I need a little inspiration,’ during the day, just look over at Tony because he’s probably doing something — dancing, singing, rapping, listening to something, mixing it up with somebody. He’s just got a great personality and brings a great energy to our team. You don’t really have to get him wound up too much because when we’re out there he’s hyper-competitive and he’s played really well. I give Tony a lot of credit. I think he’s continued to improve his entire time being here. What a lot of people don’t see, and I’m gonna brag on Tony here for a little bit, is when I’m leaving here some nights, Tony’s still working out. He’s still doing something back in the weight room or he’s watching something. He’s always working. This guy is in here early and he leaves late, legitimately, not like hyperbole of what it means to be a certain type of player in this league. Like, I can vouch that Tony is usually probably the first one in here and one of the last to leave.”
Talk about a good review. And Brown, who figures to make the final roster listed anywhere from No. 3 to No. 6 on the depth chart at cornerback, wasn’t the only one Rodgers complimented this week heading into the starters’ preseason debut. Wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling also caught some love.
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Sure, nice words from Rodgers feels good, but Brown is probably more concerned with his growing opportunity in the Packers’ secondary.
Brown took starting reps at outside corner opposite Jaire Alexander during last Monday’s contentious joint practice with Houston and reportedly more than held his own against Texans stud-and-a-half receiver DeAndre Hopkins.
If you figure Tramon Williams into slot cornerback, as was his designation during those first-team practice reps, Brown could round out the top three. However, the impending return of Jackson — who Wednesday passed his physical and will work back gradually — could challenge his standing a bit.
Whether Brown makes the 53-man roster seems less the question than who else will join him aside from the aforementioned three. Rookie Ka’Dar Hollman and second-year Chandon Sullivan each made big plays during the preseason opener, while the Packers waived Derrick Jones on Wednesday to thin the herd.
But there’s also the matter of King, who apart from his lingering hamstring issue has a hard-to-trust history with injuries. He missed 17 games over his first two seasons and finished each one on the injury reserve, in 2017 with a surgery-requiring shoulder injury and in 2018 with a hamstring injury. He also missed a few games last season with a groin injury.
King is in the third year of his four-year contract after being a second-round pick for the Packers in 2017, but his absence both in and out of season might force a decision. Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst puts it best.
“We’re not trying to take the 53 best players,” he said Tuesday. “We’re trying to take the 53 that make the best team.”