When you’re on an NFL team’s practice squad and a team like the New England Patriots come sniffing around, it’s hard to blame a player for eyeing the program Bill Belichick built in the East. However, through some persistence — not to mention a coaching overhaul — Fadol Brown does not have to worry about other team’s interest.
Well, that is not fair. The opposition will surely keep tabs on the Oakland Raiders defensive lineman this season because the second-year man out of Mississippi is gonna get snaps this season as part of a revamped Silver & Black trench men.
“It was one of the smartest decisions I’ve made thus far,” Brown said about re-signing with Oakland back in January. “I love these guys. I love the new coaching staff. Since the first day they got here, they demand what they demand from everybody. A second-year guy or six years in the league, it doesn’t matter. They demand the most out of everybody. And it gave me a shot.”
Even though the overtures never turned serious, the reported interest by a defensive mastermind like Belichick raised eyebrows. He was not alone. Cleveland Browns General Manager John Dorsey looked into the 6-foot-4, 282-pound lineman.
Brown showed why the Raiders made the smart investment and other personnel men gave him a look-see during preseason. Playing with the reserves, Brown showed off his brute force bull rush along with tenacious pursuit skills and sound tackling ability. On a team looking the required pass rush bite to hound opposition quarterbacks, Brown made it hard for head coach Jon Gruden and his staff to dismiss him. Especially when Brown continued to show up despite a maligned toe in the Raiders preseason finale.
“He hurt his toe in a walk-through a couple days ago,” Gruden said. “He was really hurting at halftime. I wanted to see him go out and play when he wasn’t feeling his best. For him to come out there and start the third quarter and play a couple series, that showed me a lot about him. He has had a really good camp for us. He has played well in games, and I’m proud of him.”
Pride, however, will only get Brown and the Raiders so far. Especially with team leader, elite and premier pass rusher Khalil Mack now a Chicago Bear. Oakland had a tremendous time racking up pressures and sacks outside of Mack and the jury is definitely out on if new defensive coordinator Paul Guenther and his crew can create consistency in an erratic rush.
Nevertheless, no one can ever accuse Brown of not trying.
“We don’t focus on what’s not gonna be here. We just go out every day and grind. It don’t matter who’s out there. There’s no drop-off, whether you’re a third-team guy, second-team guy, there’s no drop-off. The standard is the standard.”
Spoken like a true Gruden Grinder.