It was one of the biggest moves of the offseason when the Kansas City Chiefs sent a package of draft picks to the Baltimore Ravens in exchange for 24-year-old offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. back in April, acquiring one of the top left tackles in all of football to protect quarterback Patrick Mahomes' blindside.
His arrival sent a palpable buzz throughout the fanbase as a key component of the Chiefs' remade offensive line, and with training camp finally getting underway this week, the pads can't get on fast enough.
"I'm excited, man. One of my favorite parts of football isn't necessarily just wearing the helmet, but the shoulder pads, too," Brown said. "Once we get the shoulder pads on, things will get rocking. That's when the real ball players come out and that's what I'm looking forward to."
Veterans arrive for training camp at Missouri Western State University.
Brown is one of 10 offensive linemen (including returning opt-outs) who weren't with the organization last year, joining a collection of players that includes marquee free agent signee Joe Thuney at guard and second-round draft selection Creed Humphrey at center. There's no question that this group features significant talent, but perhaps even more importantly, they also display a certain attitude that could take this unit to the next level.
"They brought in a bunch of great guys who love the game of football and who play this game very emotionally," Brown explained. "We're all emotionally invested in each other, in the game and in this team…I'm super excited to get to work. It's time to prove it as opposed to talking about it, but I'm excited."
And in the meantime, Brown – a student of the game whose father played nine seasons in the NFL – has been preparing for this moment by watching film of offensive tackles from Head Coach Andy Reid's days in Philadelphia.
"I studied film of guys who I was a little bit unfamiliar with, guys like Tra Thomas, King Dunlap and Jon Runyan – guys who Coach Reid has worked with before," Brown said. "There were a lot of things to take from those different players. We have a lot of similarities in terms of size and height, and [I wanted to see] just how Coach Reid was able to use them in his offense."
It's clever research by the 6-foot-8, 345-pound Brown, who's certainly on to something by examining those three players. Thomas, who played left tackle for Coach Reid from 1999-2008 in Philadelphia, checked in at 6-foot-7, 349 pounds. Dunlap – the Eagles' swing tackle from 2008-12 – was 6-foot-8, 310 pounds and Runyan - Philadelphia's right tackle from 2000-08 – was 6-foot-7, 330 pounds.
Reid's offensive philosophy has certainly evolved in the years since he coached those players, but it's nevertheless useful knowledge to have heading into camp. Brown is out to show that he has what it takes to be a dominant left tackle in this league, after all, and despite not yielding a single sack or quarterback hit after taking over as Baltimore's starting left tackle in Week 9 of last season, he understands that the upcoming campaign with Kansas City is beginning with a blank slate.
"I've taken it upon myself throughout my life to really feel like I've got something to prove," Brown said. "I've always felt like I've got a lot to prove, and I'm attacking this year just like every other year. [It's about] getting better and being the best player that I can be to put this team in Super Bowl contention."