Archive for Monday, August 19, 2002

Ex-Jayhawk hoping to stay healthy

Green Bay Packers’ Brown frustrated by limited playing time

August 19, 2002


— The more Gilbert Brown thinks about it, the less sense it makes.

In order for him to better serve the Green Bay Packers this season, he has to be on the field more often. But in order for him to be on the field more often, he has to play less.

"The more the better," Brown said about the number of snaps he wants to play this season. "It would keep me tuned, keep me up with everybody else. If you play less, you get rusty. If you go out and play two snaps and sit for a while and play two snaps, you have to warm up again. You have a real big chance of being injured."

"I just want to play. When the 1s (the starters) go out, I want to go out with them. And I'd love to come out with them, too."

Somehow, the Packers have to find a way to keep Brown, who played for Kansas University from 1989-92, healthy a feat they were not able to achieve last year when the veteran nose tackle missed five games and struggled in several others with an assortment of injuries.

When he was at full strength, Brown gave the Packers exactly what they needed: a giant run-stuffing force in the middle. After a year off from football, Brown didn't play up to the level that made him one of the top nose tackles in the league in the mid-1990s, but he was effective enough.

He resurrected a career that had hit the rocks after the 1999 season by committing himself to losing weight and getting in shape. After dropping 70 pounds between January and July 2001, he returned to his familiar position in the middle of the Packers' defense.

His subsequent injuries a knee strain sidelined him for 16 days in training camp, pulled groin and thigh muscles plagued him from mid-season on and a strained a toe in December shelved him for two games might have been the result of him wearing down after a year out of football. But Brown doesn't think so. In his mind, the injuries were hazards of the job.

"Playing my position in the middle, you're going to have bumps and bruises," said Brown, who reported to camp near his listed weight of 339 pounds. "I don't think it had anything to do with the layoff."

The suggestion has been made that playing less might serve to keep Brown healthy throughout the season. During training camp, Brown's practice time has been limited in an effort to keep him healthy and it appears to have worked. But it could also be taking a toll on his effectiveness.

"So far, he's made every practice, which is huge," coach Mike Sherman said. "He hasn't missed anything. I'm very encouraged about him. I think he only played 25 percent of the snaps last year. We'd like to get a minimum of 15 snaps a game and hopefully more in every game. The key is him staying healthy."

It could be at this stage of his career, the 31-year-old Brown can't stand up to the beating week after week. But it makes sense to him to find out if he can, particularly now that the Packers have one of the most promising defensive lines in the NFL with the addition of end Joe Johnson.

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