A year ago, rookie running back Bryce Brown was not even playing football after he left the Kansas State program. On Monday night, Brown is in line to make his starting debut for the Eagles when the Carolina Panthers come to Lincoln Financial Field.
"I'm excited. I haven't (started) in a long, long time. This is my first time starting since high school," Brown said. "I'm looking forward to the challenge and the opportunity."
With running back LeSean McCoy not practicing Wednesday due to a concussion, Brown will get the starting nod if McCoy is unable to play. Brown's role as a backup has expanded since the start of the season. For the year, the 6-0, 220-pound back has 32 carries for 141 yards. However, Brown has amassed 85 of those yards in the past three games. Against New Orleans, Brown ripped off a 40-yard run, which has been the team's longest this season. He even returned kickoffs last week against Washington, a role that Brown said will be shelved against Carolina because of his duties on offense.
"It looks like he's more comfortable in the offense every week," head coach Andy Reid said. "He's doing a nice job in pass protection. That wasn't his thing when he came here. He's doing better there. He has better recognition of the blitzes. He's a patient runner. And then when he goes, he goes and he goes hard. He's a big body, physical player."
Brown beat out second-year running back Dion Lewis for the backup job in the preseason. But with an All-Pro in McCoy here, Brown never expected the chance to potentially start a game as a rookie.
"I was thankful and up for anything. I just wanted to play ball, be here," Brown said. "The opportunity came and it's time for me to take advantage of it.
"How I've prepared thus far is how I'll attack this week. I'm involved more, so my responsibility has to go up. My attention to detail has to go up. I trust our coaches. I believe in our coaches. They'll put us in position, myself included, to be successful."
Brown was once the nation's most highly sought after high school player back in 2008. He committed to Tennessee where he had a successful freshman campaign. However, Volunteers head coach Lane Kiffin bolted for USC. Brown transferred to go back home to Wichita, Kan. to play with his brother, Arthur, at Kansas State. Brown had to sit out the 2010 season because of the transfer rule. After suffering an ankle injury, he played in just one game before leaving the team in 2011.
Brown was given permission by Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder to participate in the school's 2012 Pro Day which was attended by running backs coach Ted Williams. The Eagles did a lot of homework and took a gamble on the athletic power back by using a seventh-round pick.
"It's not like a lot of people's situations, but it is what it is," Brown said. "Like I've said over and over, I'm thankful to be here. This is another opportunity."
Under the bright lights on Monday night, the entire nation will get to see whether Brown capitalizes on that opportunity.
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