Les Brown: Chronicling the Journey of Dolphins' 'Hard Knocks' Star
If I said the name "Les Brown" to you before HBO's Hard Knocks premiered on Tuesday night, you might have thought I was talking about a big band leader.
You might have thought I was talking about an author and a motivational speaker.
And up until five months ago, I might have actually been talking about an accountant from Utah.
It was hard to miss him in the premier of Hard Knocks. He was the one falling all over himself trying to block in tight end drills.
"The first week or so in pads was a little bit rough," said Brown in an interview posted on MiamiDolphins.com. "There was a little bit of an adjustment there that I had to make, it was a little bit awkward. I was losing my footing a little bit, but as we've continued to work in practice and I've stayed after practice with [tight ends] coach [Dan] Campbell to work on my footwork and technique, and talked with guys like [tight end] Anthony Fasano and [left tackle] Jake Long about blocking, I think I still have a long way to go, but I've been working on it and I think that I'm getting better."
We'll find out how much better in time, but his struggles are understandable.
Brown's path to the NFL was less than conventional.
He had given up on a life in sports upon graduating, resigning himself to a future in business as an accountant.
But all it took were a few words of encouragement from trainer Chad Ikei to convince Brown to leave it all behind and pursue the dream of playing professional football.
Three months of hard work ensued leading up to his infamous workout at Brigham Young University's pro day. According to Pro Football Weekly, Brown recorded a 4.43 second 40-yard dash and a 39-inch vertical jump, numbers which would have ranked the best among all tight ends at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Now, Brown is taking a second crack at it, but he's quickly finding out that football isn't quite like riding a bike, and he's having a bit of trouble getting his wheels under him.
His struggles are twofold: Not only is he learning a new position at tight end, but he hasn't played football in five years.
"It's going to be a process," said Brown of learning a new position. "I don't think anybody expected me to come in here and just have perfect fundamental technique with blocking and stuff. It's something I've never done before in my life. When I played in high school, I played wide receiver so putting my hand in the dirt and blocking a guy like Cameron Wake, I'm going to take my lumps, and I'm okay with that. But as long as I just keep getting up and working on it, I think I can get better."
As of right now, that's all that's expected of him: just keep getting better.
What will Les Brown's ultimate fate be?
The Dolphins are running a new offense, which could be conducive to more two-tight end sets. That may not necessarily be conducive to his shot at the roster, as he currently sits behind tight ends Michael Egnew, Charles Clay and Anthony Fasano on the depth chart.
A year on the practice squad wouldn't be the worst possible outcome for Brown, and it might benefit him to give him some more time to hone his craft and refine his skills in order to become a better all-around tight end.
But his journey is a remarkable one, and one that will surely be watched regardless of the final outcome on Hard Knocks.
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