Thursday night was another step in the development of running back Bryce Brown, the NFL's third-youngest player. Brown, of course, had a limited college football career, carrying the ball only 104 times while bouncing between Tennessee and Kansas State before he was selected by the Eagles in the seventh round of last April's NFL Draft.
Since then, Brown has made an impact as a rookie, especially during a two-game stretch when he ran for an astounding 347 combined yards, the second highest such two-game total in franchise history. But in the two games since that outburst, Brown has rushed for only 40 yards on 28 carries, good for 1.4 yards per carry.
Meanwhile, Brown's ball security has come under some scrutiny. Brown has four fumbles on the season and though he was not charged with a fumble on a play that resulted in a 25-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown by the Bengals last night, he was partially responsible for the turnover.
Following the game, head coach Andy Reid remarked that Brown's relative inexperience plays a factor in the running back's occasional lack of ball security.
"Looking at his background of not playing much in the past few years, I think it is important that he plays," Reid said. "I know his personality and he wants to make sure he does the right things. That's the way he is. He's not trying to fumble the ball, that's for sure. He has to get better at that."
"You see improvements," Reid added Friday. "You see most of it in the pass game, the routes, and the protections, and you see some subtle little things in the run game. He needs to play. That's why I haven't sat him down because of the fumbles. I felt like he did miss a lot. He missed a lot of football. The thing he needs most is to be out there and playing and learning the game. So he's wired the right way. This is a kid who doesn't want to make mistakes and drop the ball and that stuff. He's a responsible kid. [He] just has to get better with it."
Brown, meanwhile, is searching for answers of his own.
"I honestly don't know," he said following the game. "It could be (me inexperience), but I don't think that's an excuse. Last game I did a great job of ball security. Something like this happens. I looked up and the guy was in my face, hitting me before the exchange.
"I don't know because I have never had this problem before. I think I actually did well with ball security today. I thought I did great except for that one time and there was not much I could have done there … From what everyone was telling me, there was not much that I could have done. I will go back and assess that."
While Pro Bowl running back LeSean McCoy is still waiting for clearance from an independent neurologist to return from his concussion (Reid said Friday that McCoy is likely to visit the neurologist on Tuesday), there are two games remaining in the Eagles season. For Brown, those games represent another chance to gain the reps that will only help him moving into the future of his NFL career.
"I think it's important," Brown said. "Every game is important and for me, I just want to take two games to get better, get better from this game and then the next game get better and finish off the season strong."
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