John Holt spoke with Josh Brown following the Jets' Wednesday practice at the Atlantic Health Training Center. He wrote about the previous day the previous day in this summer's kicking competition.
Many would expect a 10th-year NFL player to have experienced everything the professional game has to offer.
However, Jets kicker Josh Brown hasn't ever experienced being a part of a kicking competition. While his counterpart, Nick Folk, has been involved in three battles during his five-year career, Brown is in a new position.
Entering the pro ranks in 2003 out of Nebraska, Brown began his career with the Seattle Seahawks. He spent five glorious years there before joining the St. Louis Rams, where he stayed the next four. His brief time with the Green & White may be his most rewarding yet.
"More than anything in the last four years, it's taught me what I wasn't doing," Brown said. "It's made me recognize the things that I left in Seattle because I had so many good years in Seattle and we did so well, and then I got the big contract and sometimes your mind can get away with you and your ego can get away with you, finding content and being OK with surviving, rather than really being the best at it. I feel like it's a whole new awakening here."
The 6'0", 202-pounder has been impressive during training camp. He went 4-of-4 at the Jets Family Night practice Tuesday at MetLife Stadium, connecting on kicks from 50 and 55 yards out.
"I feel really good all around," he said. "This has probably been the healthiest I've ever been. I've never had major injuries but I haven't lost any strength throughout camp. I feel as strong as I've ever been. I'm as focused as I've ever been, obviously."
As far as the competition goes, Brown has four more years of experience than Folk. Yet Folk carries an advantage in that he's been with the Jets* *for the past two seasons.
"I've been in the league twice as long and my overall percentage is a little bit better," Brown said. "I've hit a lot of 50-yarders. I've got a lot of game-winners. I've played in massive games.
"But he has, too, to his credit. He's really done a great job in his five years. So it's about who are the Jets most comfortable with in a sticky situation."
The 33-year-old is the only player in NFL history to kick six 50-yard field goals a season in back-to-back seasons. But with the Rams, he was kicking indoors as St. Louis plays its home games in the Edward Jones Dome. He said if he is selected to be the Jets kicker, he will have to manage his muscles and how they're affected by the cold weather in the months of November and December.
"I feel very comfortable in any environment," he said. "If I can survive Seattle for five years and snow games in Lambeau in January, I'll be just fine here in November."
And interestingly, Brown's kicking numbers are better outside than in. He provided the Jets their only points during Saturday's 26-3 loss to the Giants when he converted a 30-yard field goal in the third quarter. The ball initially hit the right upright but still went through.
He notices several similarities between his and Folk's games, noting that they both approach the game the same way, both are capable of feeling a situation out and both can make the proper adjustments if necessary.
"People don't understand this is very real," Brown said of the competition. "This isn't a joke. It's not 'Oh, well, I'll just be done here and automatically go get another job.' It isn't like that. You don't turn in an application. So while we are friends, understand it's going to change somebody's life."
With less than a week remaining in this intensifying competition, Brown said his mentality heading into Sunday night's nationally televised game against Carolina will be the same as he treats a practice.
"If you don't miss in practice, then you shouldn't miss in games," he said. "The perception and environment shouldn't change you. If you're a consistent enough kicker, you're going to continue to do the same things all the time. So don't allow the situation to control your emotion. You control the situation with your preparation and your success during the week."
Amongst themselves, only minimal conversations have taken place regarding the competition. Brown's hope is that he and Folk will remain friends no matter who is chosen. But one thing is certain: The Jets will have an extremely difficult decision on their hands when the time comes.
"We know that there is an end result," Brown said. "And either way, somebody is out of here. So you have to be OK with that. If you don't have peace about that, then ultimately you're beating yourself. So I have a lot of peace. If I don't get this job, I'm going to be fine. I've played a long time. If he doesn't get this job, he'll be fine.
"Football is not worth losing your integrity over. It's just not. So I would hope that this wouldn't change anything. But at the same time, this is a very real situation and lives will be changed."