After focusing on refining physical fitness and skill this offseason, running back Mack Brown performs in Redskins preseason practices healthier and stronger.
With an active roster appearance in 2016 and a summer of training and discipline, running back Mack Brown enters his second season with the Redskins ready to build off of his success in Washington.
While Brown worked individually to transform his diet and physique, fellow NFL running backs helped to develop his technique.
These changes, Brown explained, have made a difference.
"This year I slimmed down a lot," he said. "I lost six percent body fat, so I feel faster. But before training camp started, I was training with [Atlanta Falcons running back] Tevin Coleman everyday, so every day we were we were racing, competing, so that got me ready for camp to compete with these guys."
In addition to Coleman, Brown was led by another league pro, nine-year veteran and current Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy.
"[Coleman and I] just picked off of what LeSean McCoy told us, you know, work hard everyday," Brown said. "When I watch him come out of his cut, he has full speed, so quick, so when he was racing I [was] like, 'Man, this guy keeps beating me.' So after a while [I'm] like, 'You know what, the next week he isn't going to beat me anymore.' So after a while I just started working on my balance, and I'll get on the jump rope more and have more explosion off of one-foot cuts. So that's the main thing, working on coming out of my cuts a little faster."
Before his productive offseason, Brown contributed to the Redskins' success last year. After being called up to the active roster mid-season, the running back appeared in nine games recording a team-high 82 yards on eight carries, including a 61-yard touchdown run in a win against the Chicago Bears in Week 16. Now, with improved speed, agility and self-awareness, Brown enters the Redskins' 2017 training camp confident in his abilities.
"I feel great right now. I feel like I'm finally getting my groove," Brown said. "The last two practices were probably the best practices of camp [for me], so I'm just going to keep it going, keep stacking these practices."
Though Brown's training and recent performance have fueled his fight for a roster spot, fellow running back Keith Marshall's training camp knee injury has been additional motivation, putting the competition in perspective.
"That probably pushed me the most, seeing Keith go down," Brown said. "The first couple days of practice, the plays he was making had me in the weight room doing more speed workouts," he added. " I'm like, 'This guy's amazing.' Him getting hurt like that is devastating, but the injury pushed me even more. Ever since I [saw] him hurt, I try to… work even harder everyday."
With Marshall's injury, the Redskins have signed Kenny Hilliard, an LSU product recently released by the Houston Texans. Though there is depth at the running back position, Brown is ready to get on the field and prove that hard work pays off.
"For me, I know a lot of people probably don't give the backfield props because we have a young backfield, but it's one of the deepest positions I've ever seen," he said. "You have Matt Jones, you have Rob Kelley, you have Samaje [Perine], [Kenny Hilliard] just came in, you have Chris Thompson… It's a tough backfield, so just getting on the field with those guys to really compete and [have] fun – I'm excited for [the first preseason game on] Thursday. I'm excited to show people what I can really do."