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News » 'Wildcat' offense has rejuvenated Brown's career

'Wildcat' offense has rejuvenated Brown's career

'Wildcat' offense has rejuvenated Brown's career
DAVIE, Fla. - Having reached the playoffs and Pro Bowl for the first time, Miami running back Ronnie Brown is living up to expectations.

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"It's amazing the guy just had knee surgery and to see the extent of what he's done," Dolphins third-string running back Patrick Cobbs said of Brown. "He can beat you in so many different ways. He's fast, he's strong, he's physical.

"You have to pick your poison if you're a defender. You don't know what he's going to give you. He could make you miss, run over the top of you or run away from you. The guy is special. He's worthy of his Pro Bowl honor."

Hawaii seemed like a distant oasis during Brown's first two NFL seasons. Brown posted solid statistics, including a 1,008-yard rushing campaign in 2006, but didn't make many impact plays or demonstrate he was consistently capable of carrying the offense. As the first NFL running back chosen with a top-two pick in a decade, Dolphins fans anticipated bigger things.

So did Brown.

"There are a lot of expectations when you're drafted No. 2 and expected to make a change (for your team) right away," said Brown, who signed a five-year, $34 million rookie contract. "You hear what people are saying. You're going to see (criticism) on TV or in the newspaper.

"The funny thing is that my expectations, they exceed everyone else's."

Brown began fulfilling them in 2007, although it took some tough love from then-coach Cam Cameron to get the ball rolling. Cameron was unhappy with Brown's off-season weight — he tipped the scales at more than 240 pounds at one point — and what was perceived as a lackadaisical approach toward football. Cameron took the extreme steps of firing his running backs coach after a rough minicamp practice and relegated Brown to returning kicks during the preseason.

"Emotionally, it was messing with him," said Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder, who is one of Brown's closest friends.

Rather than complain about Cameron's treatment or request a trade, Brown responded by dropping the weight and playing his best football. Through the first seven weeks of last season, Brown led the NFL in total yards from scrimmage (991) until hurting his right knee against New England.

The injury did more than end Brown's season and deal another blow to a squad that ultimately finished 1-15. It also caused Brown to reassess his approach toward the game.

"It was tough," said Brown, who turned 27 last month. "That was the first injury I sustained where I had to sit out for a period of time. Once you sit back, you realize that you should be fortunate for every moment and take advantage of each one while you're here. That was my goal coming into this season after going through that and learning this game doesn't last forever."

Brown pushed through an arduous rehabilitation program to find an unusual reward waiting at the end: The chance to lead an offense previously reserved for the college ranks. After an 0-2 start, Miami decided to unveil the "Wildcat" formation the team had secretly practiced during the preseason. Dolphins quarterbacks coach David Lee had successfully used the "Wildcat" the previous year at the University of Arkansas with running back Darren McFadden shifting into the quarterback position. The Dolphins targeted Brown for the same role.

"My whole approach was, 'Let's not mess it up. Let's get it right so we can use it,'" a smiling Brown said.

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Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: January 3, 2009

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Chris Chester Name: Chris Chester
Position: OG
Age: 25
Experience: 3 years
College: Oklahoma
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