August 04, 2007

Ready to Catch Fire

When Reggie Brown was a rookie, he answered questions about playing with Terrell Owens.

When Brown entered his second training camp, the questions were about playing without Owens.

Now in his third season, Brown is facing another T.O. question: Whether he can become the only Eagles receiver besides Owens to surpass the 1,000-yard benchmark in the Andy Reid era.

If there was ever a candidate and ever a time, it is Brown this season. The NFL has a noticeable trend of receivers taking three years to develop into 1,000-yard players. Forty-seven active NFL receivers have registered 1,000-yard seasons; 12 of those receivers, or 25.5 percent, recorded their first 1,000-yard season in their third year in the NFL. The next highest is a players' fourth year, when nine players reached the mark for the first time.

"You have two years to learn the system, two years to get acclimated to the speed of the game," Brown said. "[The third year] is one of the years that people who have been taught this stuff shoot up a little bit and get more comfortable in their own game. And big things happen when you have confidence."

Among the receivers who have had breakout seasons in their third year in the NFL are Owens, Carolina Panthers star Steve Smith, and NFC East foe Santana Moss of the Washington Redskins.

Two third-year players had their first 1,000-yard season last year: Detroit's Roy Williams and Buffalo's Lee Evans.

Brown even has a head start. He was thrust into action in his rookie season and recorded 43 catches for 571 yards. Last year, he had 816 yards on just 46 catches, an average of 17.7 yards per catch. He had more combined yards in his first two years than Smith and Moss did in their first two seasons.

"As you saw last year, it was a good start for Reggie's career," offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said. "It should have a big jump this year as well."
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