New England Patriots' cornerback Brandon Browner had an entire preseason to practice with the Patriots and was able to stay at the team's facilities during his four game suspension. Because of that, it was a bit surprising to see him not get activated for the team's week five match-up against the Bengals.
Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald may have provided us a reason why:
Cornerback Brandon Browner, who was absent from practice today, was not activated Sunday against the Bengals because he has struggled to grasp the Patriots defensive system, according to a source.
Browner opened the season with a four-game suspension and was eligible to play his first game in Week 5. It was curious why Bill Belichick opted against activating him, though Alfonzo Dennard played well in the Pats' 43-17 victory. Now, the answer has become clear.
Howe also pointed towards a quote that Browner's former teammate, Richard Sherman, provided the Boston Herald back in the offseason:
"Sometimes, putting a lot of pre-snap reads and all that kind of takes away from his instincts, and I hope they don't do that because that's part of our game. That's what allowed us to be successful in Seattle was a lack of checks and the lack of reads and things like that. We just stand up there and go toe to toe."
This is an added layer to the curious ways the Patriots have handled Browner since before he was even under contract with the team.
The talent level is certainly there and the Patriots could, at a minimum, use him in certain packages in man-coverage situations. Hopefully the team will be able to find the proper way to utilize him.