FOXBORO — Brandon Browner had enough.
The new Patriots cornerback said a sluggish couple of days led to a decision to crank things up at practice Wednesday morning.
‘I’m tired of giving up balls,’ Browner said after practice, ‘so I had to turn it up a little bit.’
That meant a series of back-and-forth exchanges with teammates and coaches that sparked some heat for the first time this summer.
This media is not allowed to specifically quote or even paraphrase conversations that take place on the field during camp, but in a passing drill that matched up wide receivers on defensive backs, Browner first hollered at quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
Then, after Browner and Kenbrell Thompkins got physical in a one-on-one drill, he went to stick his hand out to Thompkins in what appeared to be an attempt to offer an apology. Thompkins kept walking.
Shortly after that, Browner had another physical one-on-one matchup with Brandon LaFell, and that led to a heated exchange with receivers coach Chad O’Shea — the two took some steps toward each other before players intervened.
Browner said he and O’Shea ‘hugged it out’ after the flap, and that he respects O’Shea because he’s a coach. In addition, it’s clear he’s developed a level of respect for Thompkins, who he’s been lined up against frequently since the pads went on.
‘KT has got routes at the line of scrimmage that are unmatchable,’ he said. ‘Some guys are not as quick as that dude. It’s been real competitive going against that guy. It’s only going to make me better.’
But you shouldn’t look for Browner to alter his physical approach, one that helped set the tone for Seattle’s Legion of Boom secondary. He said Wednesday his physical playing style is about letting ‘the chips fall where they may,’ and acknowledged that could lead to some flags. (Browner has drawn 15 penalties over the last year-plus, including five in eight games last season. By way of comparison, that would have put him tied for second on the Patriots in just a half-season.)
Browner added: ‘That’s my style of play — play aggressive. You don’t want to cost your team any penalties, but you let the officials do their job.
And that occasionally means giving your own teammates the business.
‘Yesterday, we gave up a few balls. Let some of these guys off the line a little easy,’ he said. ‘That was my mentality going into this practice — to win my one-on-one matchups and things like that.
‘You give those guys some balls, they’ll get confident. You want to take away a little bit of that confidence. Get confidence in yourself.’
Then, there’s the fact that the grind of camp might be starting to wear on players. A week of hitting the same guys over and over again gets a little tiresome. The Patriots will get something of a break in that regard, as they are set to fly to Richmond over the weekend to hold joint practices with the Redskins.
‘It gets frustrating going against the same guys every day,’ he said. ‘I’m ready to get down to Washington and see what I can do against those guys.’
Ultimately, Browner sees the increased intensity level as a way to get better on both sides of the ball.
‘It gets us both better — guys on the other side of the ball, it’s what they’re going to do to guys in games. And that was what guys are going to try to do to me in games.
‘Those are guys I’m going to war with, but at the same time, I’m going to be aggressive with those guys. It’s going to make those guys better, and I hope they bring the same fire back at me.’