The Detroit Lions won’t have Frank Ragnow on the field for the foreseeable future, but the good news is, they will be able to use a player who might sees the game just like he does.
Evan Brown will draw his first start in Week 5 against the Minnesota Vikings, but Brown managed to come in and play a solid role for Detroit already in Week 4 when Ragnow left the game with his toe injury. In the end, that might not be all that surprising considering Brown has spent time soaking up information from the Pro Bowl center.
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Speaking to the media after practice on Wednesday, October 6 in an interview posted to DetroitLions.com, Brown was asked about if he feels he can keep the communication gap small. As he said, he believes that will be the case thanks to the experience he has enjoyed on the field learning from Ragnow during his time with the team.
“Sitting behind Frank these past three to four weeks here, and then also learning behind him, I got here five weeks left in the season last year. I’ve learned a lot just kind of sitting behind him and watching how he operates,” Brown told the media. “He’s obviously one of the best in the game, so I am going to do my best to keep things flowing in the right direction and keep us communicating well.”
Brown was on the Lions in 2020 for a brief amount of time, and not surprisingly, was able to gain a lot from that experience, especially considering Matthew Stafford was with the team. Interestingly enough, the center cited Stafford as a major influence in his learning process as well.
“Obviously little different system here (in 2021), but learning how (Ragnow) handles the show, and also being here with (Matthew Stafford), he’s a really smart guy so I was able to pick up a couple things from him too,” Brown admitted. “Definitely those weeks there helped me learn the system and how things kind of flowed.”
In terms of learning from veteran players, Brown could do a lot worse than being able to have Stafford and Ragnow at his disposal. If Brown continues to look ready to go and not overwhelmed on the field, that could end up being a major reason why that is the case.
Evan Brown Praises ‘Smart’ Vikings’ Defensive Front
In terms of the test he will face out of the gate, the Vikings will bring the pressure on Brown from the get-go given their explosive defensive line which has the ability to pressure the quarterback. Thus far this season, the Vikings have 13 total sacks, and Danielle Hunter has collected 5 sacks on his own. That puts the pressure on Brown to be very good, and he knows he will be dealing with a major test this week on defense.
“They got a really good front with a lot of smart guys on that defense,” Brown said. “Between (Anthony) Barr possibly coming back and (Eric) Kendricks back there directing the whole show, they got a lot of knowledge back there and a lot of good players so it’s going to be a good test with a lot of good players.”
In spite of that, Brown admits he isn’t feeling anxious or nervous, but rather trusting his ability to react in the moment and stick to the game plan.
“You got to go into it with the mindset of being calm, being collected, communicating,” he explained. “We work as five up front. We’re five groups that work interchangeably with combinations here, blocks here, and we all work together so that’s how we handle it.”
This game will be a test, but it’s one that Brown seems prepared to attack.
Brown Prepared to Start During NFL Preseason
Perhaps the best news for the Lions is the fact that Brown has been preparing for this moment since the preseason given his playing time. Ragnow didn’t get much run at the time given the Lions wanted to rest their starters and not overwork them. Interestingly enough, Brown had the most snaps of any player in the preseason in Detroit with a whopping 154 as pointed out by Pro Football Focus.
Brown has played in 13 games in his career, so he does have NFL experience to rely on. For that reason, he’s not like other possible replacements that could come on the roster. Brown was undrafred out of SMU in 2018, but ended up cracking the New York Giants roster in 2018 before being waived in 2019. He would go on to spend parts of 2020 with the Cleveland Browns before coming to Detroit. This year, Brown showed himself as stable enough to make the team.
Now, he will be able to get his first big chance in the league. It certainly sounds as if it’s something he will be ready for.