- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – When safety Rodney Harrison first came to the Patriots in 2003, he buzzed around the practice field and delivered some big hits on teammates. Such intensity was part of what made him great, but it also came close to putting some of his teammates at risk in practice.
Some of the same things we remember seeing back then have returned to Patriots practice, in the form of cornerback Brandon Browner.
The 6-foot-4, 221-pound Browner plays with a physical edge and he was mauling receiver Kenbrell Thompkins at the line of scrimmage throughout Wednesday’s practice, sometimes beyond the legal 5-yard limit. Then during the middle of practice in one-on-one drills, Browner’s physical play reached a point that receivers coach Chad O’Shea fired his hat into the ground and the two exchanged some words, with Browner needing to be restrained.
After practice, Browner didn’t want to get into the fiery exchange with O’Shea.
“Me and him hugged it out,” he said. “As a coach, I have to respect him, but that’s nothing I want to talk about or put on TV like that because I respect him.”
Browner was more willing to speak about what unfolded throughout the practice and how he made a concerted effort to play with an edge at the line of scrimmage.
“It was a physical one, man. We had to compete out there. I’m tired of giving up balls, so I just turned it up a little bit,” he said.
That made the Browner-Thompkins matchup one of the most notable things to come out of practice. They went at it multiple times, with some extra pushing and shoving at times.
“It’s part of the game. There will be fights. There will be scuffles. But at the end of the day, we’re all close friends and teammates,” Thompkins said. “We’re just trying to make each other better.”
Browner was complimentary of Thompkins.
“KT’s got routes at the line of scrimmage that are unmatchable,” he said. “Some guys aren’t as quick as that dude, so it’s been competitive going against that guy. And it’s only going to make me better."
Browner, practicing like Harrison once did, seemed to get the better of the matchup on Wednesday, while picking up what would have been a few penalties along the way.
“Yesterday we gave up a few balls and let some of those guys off the line a little easy,” Browner said. “So that was my mentality going into this practice, to win my one-on-one matchups.
“You give those guys too many balls, they’re going to get confident. You want to take away a little of that confidence and give confidence to yourself.”