Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard says Brandon Browner has bought in to a conversion to safety.
While Brandon Browner brought a significant history with him when he returned to the Seahahwks in April, his legacy as a founding member of the Legion of Boom didn’t necessarily guarantee him a spot on the team’s final 53-man roster in the fall.
That’s particularly true when considering that Browner signed a one-year, $760,000 contract, with none of it guaranteed.
Making things even a little trickier for Browner is that he returned to Seattle at age 31 (he turns 32 in August) being asked to take on a new role, playing as a safety instead of his usual cornerback.
While Browner has played some safety-type roles before, particularly in 2014 with New England, doing so fulltime still requires something of an adjustment, and how he would adapt was among the larger areas of intrigue throughout Seattle’s off-season program.
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All of which means Browner was again in something of a prove-it mode this spring, as he was when he first came to the Seahawks in 2011.
According to Seahawks’ defensive coordinator Kris Richard, however, Browner went a long way during the month of OTAs and mini-camp practices to ease any concerns about his ability to make the full-time transition to safety.
“He’s grown a lot since we’ve come out here in OTAs,’’ Richard said after the Seahawks concluded their mini-camp Thursday, which followed three weeks of Organized Team Activites. “He’s grabbed the bull by the horns, is really what he’s done. He’s come out, he’s bought in. It’s not easy to make that transition from corner to safety. Now you have to have the big picture. He’s done a really good job of staying in the playbook and staying abreast upon his assignments and where he’s supposed to be on the field.”
Browner isn’t being asked just to play a close-to-the-line-style strong safety role and lining up on tight ends, but also has been asked to learn deep safety, covering wide swaths of the field (in Thursday’s practice, Browner roamed from deep safety to the sidelines to bat down a pass near the goal line). Richard said the challenge for Browner in making the adjustment is less physical for the 6-4, 220-pound Browner, but more mental.
“You’re a little more isolated out there at corner,’’ Richard said. “Once we bring you in to the middle of the formation, or we put you in the box down in there, you have to have a much bigger picture. Your keys change, your assignments change.So it’s definitely mental.”
The addition of Browner, as well as the maturation and versatility of players such as Jeremy Lane and DeShawn Shead figures to give the Seahawks the ability to vary coverages as much in the secondary as they have ever done in the Pete Carroll era.
While the Seahawks have long thrived on defensive simplicity — taking pride in being able to just line up and beat teams — Richard said having the ability to be more diverse (such as sticking Browner on a specific tight end or having Richard Sherman trail a specific receiver) may make Seattle that much better on defense in 2016.
Asked if having more proven parts with which to use will make calling games on defense this season easier, Richard responded “Much easier.
“Not only the secondary but our whole defense in general, our whole football team. We’re wiser, we’re getting older and we’re getting smarter. The better we can understand this defense day in and day out, it makes us that much more flexible.”