Duane Brown was well aware of the numerous age differences he would encounter among his new teammates after he signed on recently with the Jets to play left tackle.
"I saw Zach [Wilson] when I got here and told me he's 23," Brown said after Thursday's joint practice with the Giants at their facility in East Rutherford. "My rookie year he was 8 years old. But you know, it keeps me young, from conversations to life experience to being out here running after practice. It's good ... they teach me stuff and I try to teach stuff I learned along the way."
Brown spent only his second day in pads since joining the Green & White and for the second time the Jets' expected starting front five (left to right, Brown, Laken Tomlinson, Connor McGovern, Alijah Vera-Tucker and George Fant) lined up in front of quarterback Joe Flacco. If you will, Flacco (37) and Brown (who will turn 37 on Tuesday) are graybeards among a promising collection of young, players in green and white. In addition to protecting Flacco's blindside (for now, at least), the two share another distinction -- they each came into the NFL after the 2008 draft, Flacco going to the Ravens in the first round at No. 18 overall and Brown going to the Texans No. 28 overall.
"I didn't meet Joe at the draft, he's one of a handful of people still [playing] in that class," Brown said. "I have a lot of respect for him, for what he's accomplished in his career. I didn't meet him then, I wasn't well known. I was like the eighth tackle taken in the draft. Joe is a great, cool dude, even keel, getting the job done. Since I've been here, it's been great to reminisce with him about the '08 draft." For the record, Brown was the seventh offensive tackle taken in that draft.
"Listen, I think when you're behind the O-line, you have confidence in all the guys, no matter who's up there," Flacco said. "I think we had a great group of guys all through camp and to add a guy like that, especially on a young team, I think any time you can add guys that have some experience, it helps out the whole team."
Brown first visited the Jets on a free-agent visit on August 6th. The situation became more urgent when Mekhi Becton went down with what appears to be a season-ending injury for the second straight year. So, what appeared to be a potential signing to add depth to the O-line was transformed in an instant.
Brown spent the past five seasons with the Seattle Seahawks after playing 10 solid years in Houston. After being traded to Seattle in October 2017, Brown was named second team All-Pro in 2018 and was picked to play in the Pro Bowl in 2021.
Thursday's action against the Giants, was not only his second day in pads, it was his second day in action -- other than his time spent on the side working on his fitness, which has been called "phenomenal" by head coach Robert Saleh.
"Today [Thursday] was great, knocking rust off, the wind feels good, my recollection of the system and the scheme feel pretty good," Brown said. "Just getting back to playing football is everything. I've been working out and I'm in pretty good shape but nothing compares like actually going through play. Yesterday [Wednesday] was a good day of work, and we ramped it up today. I feel I'm on a good track."
See the Green & White on the field with the Giants during joint practice.
Throughout his career, Brown has been consistent and durable. With Houston, he played a full 16-game season five times and played in 14 games twice. In his four full seasons in Seattle, Brown played in the team's full schedule of games in three of the four seasons. Overall, he's appeared in 203 NFL games and has never taken fewer than 90% of his team's snaps on offense. As impressive has been his ability to play clean -- in those 203 career games Brown has committed 53 total penalties (13 holding, 32 false starts and 8 offside). In his final two seasons with the Seahawks, he was flagged for only 1 holding call, 5 false starts and 1offside infraction.
That type of consistency is invaluable.
"There's a good mixture of youth and veterans," Brown said. "I'm familiar with the scheme, I just have to get the terminology now. I'm not having to worry over communication playing with Laken, he's played a lot of football.
"It was a huge benefit yesterday working against our guys, even though I haven't practiced, I've been watching them. Today was my first day in pads against another team and it was kind of a shock to the system. But it was good for me, I think I responded well. Sunday [this year's final preseason game, vs. the Giants at MetLife Stadium] will be another step forward."
Asked if he's in shape, football shape, Brown said: "You can run, work out all you want, it's not the same as having to move a guy against his will. It's just part of conditioning, the last two days have been great, next week is going to be big. I've played a long time, my body has muscle memory. It won't take a long time. I've played long enough that I don't have to kill myself to get to Week 1, last year I didn't do camp at all and was rusty to start the season. I got a good amount of reps today, have Sunday and have another week of work next week."