Tennessee Titans rookie receiver A.J. Brown made a big impact in his first career game on Sunday, catching three passes for 100 yards.
His two biggest catches of the game—which went for 47 and 51 yards, respectively—provided a spark for the offense. The drives in which Brown made those catches both ended in points for the Titans.
The chunk plays were spurred on by Brown’s physicality after the catch, which already looks to be one of his best attributes. On Sunday, that physicality allowed him to break tackles and make life easier for his quarterback.
“That’s just me trying to play hard and not letting one guy just tackle me,” Brown said of his effort on Sunday. “Whenever a guy in the offense can break tackles and do what he does after the catch, that helps the offense out a lot.”
56 of Brown’s 100 receiving yards against Cleveland came after the catch. He was also credited with 2 broken tackles, a testament to his physical attitude.
Head coach Mike Vrabel used the word “critical” to describe how important it is for receivers to gain yards after the catch.
“I think that when you’re able to get the ball in the open field and use the skillset that you have, whether that’s speed, quickness, size, that’s important for runners or guys with the ball in their hand to do,” Vrabel said.
QB Marcus Mariota, who threw the ball to Brown on both of his big catches in Week 1, likes what he is seeing from the Titans’ young receiver.
“The first guy usually doesn’t bring him down,” Mariota said. “He took a 10-yard play into making it 50.”
Brown has been making big plays with the ball in his hands since his collegiate days at Ole Miss, where he was a 1,000-yard receiver in both his sophomore and junior seasons.
Jacob Peeler, Brown’s position coach at Ole Miss, said shortly after the 2019 NFL Draft that Brown “excelled” at making plays after the catch during his college days.
“He kind of looked like an old school running back once he got the ball in his hands,” Peeler said. “He was really creative, and used his athleticism and his God-given ability.”
One game into his NFL career, those abilities are translating for Brown from the college ranks to the pros.
Cover image: Ken Blaze/USA Today