Last Sunday was eventful for Pharaoh Brown. Not only did he catch a pair of passes for 71 yards and a touchdown in the New England Patriots’ 15-10 win over the New York Jets, he also saw his most extensive action this season — including a handful of snaps at a new position: fullback.
On six of 25 total downs, the big-bodied tight end lined up in the backfield to serve as a lead blocker. While the requirements for that role are different than what he is normally used to, Brown approaches both with the same mentality.
He just wants to smash people.
“I love football. I love the physicality part of it,” Brown told reporters at Gillette Stadium on Thursday. “I mean, fullback is no different than when I’m playing tight end. I’m trying to go in there and smash people. And now I got a little head start to smash people. For me it’s just a tomato-tomato kind of thing.”
He did acknowledge a few differences, though.
“The angles are a little different, but trying to squeeze my big self through a couple of holes is challenging, jumping over things,” he said. “Other than that, once you get to the block the fundamentals are kind of the same.”
Brown arrived in New England in late August, initially joining the Patriots’ practice squad. He was promoted to the active roster a few days later, and has seen action on both offense and special teams in all three games so far this year regular season.
The 29-year-old adapting quickly to life in New England was made easier by his connection with offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien and tight ends coach Will Lawing: the two already worked with him in 2020, when he was signed by the Houston Texans. In fact, they lobbied for the Patriots to bring him aboard after he was released by the Indianapolis Colts last month.
Now, reunited with his former coaches, Brown vows to show them what he can do — even if it puts him in somewhat unfamiliar situations.
“I’m not built to be on the sideline. They say fullback, I’m going. I’m not saying anything else,” he said.
The former undrafted rookie free agent, who joined the league as a member of the Cleveland Browns in 2017 and is now on his fifth team, does have some experience lining up in the backfield. According to Pro Football Focus, 115 of his 1,430 offensive career snaps before joining the Patriots came as either a fullback or H-back.
Despite his limited exposure, Brown sees himself ready to play whichever role the team has in mind for him.
“Football just comes natural to me,” he said. “I wouldn’t say I was lined up in the backfield too much. I’m 6’7, so lining up in the backfield is kind of a long stretch. But it was a way for me to get on the football field, and that’s what I came here to do, and that’s what I want to do. So, anything that can get me on the football field.”