Josh Brown has been perfect in his field goal attempts during team drills in training camp so far, and he says he's having the best preseason of his career. But few have been able to see the reason why he was brought to the Giants this offseason to replace long-time kicker Lawrence Tynes.
That's because Brown hasn't attempted a field goal of more than 40 yards. At least not in front of his teammates.
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"Team drills, it's about building confidence," Brown said. "Building confidence with myself, with my teammates, with Coach [Tom] Coughlin . . . that inside 40 I'm going to come in and deliver for these guys. Between 40 and 49 (yards), we want to be 100 percent. We want to be 100 percent all year long. But 40 and in is a must."
So Brown is keeping those long attempts to himself for now. The Giants figure Brown and his stronger leg will extend their scoring range on the field by about 5 yards over what Tynes gave them, and while that doesn't sound like a lot it would have made a huge difference in the game-winning attempt against the Eagles last season that fell short. A win in that game likely would have put the Giants in the playoffs.
Brown's career-long field goal is 58 yards (2003 with Seattle). He said when he signed that he feels "very comfortable" from 55 yards in. Tynes may have kicked the Giants into a pair of Super Bowls, but his career-long field goal is 53.
For now, though, Brown is keeping it nice and simple. Routine. Not standing out. He could easily trot out onto the practice field to attempt a 53-yarder with the team, and he may eventually. But first he needs to build up to it.
"You want them to recognize you but at the same time you almost want it to be boring," he said, before flatly intoning what he hopes teammates will think about him: " 'Oh, Josh is out there. Great. He's going to make another field goal. Super.' "
While Brown feels he still needs to earn the trust of the team -- something that probably won't happen until he's tested in game conditions -- he comes to the Giants with an impressive resume that gives him a headstart in that pursuit.
"He gets instant credibility coming in here," punter and field goal holder Steve Weatherford said. "He's been in the league for 10 years. People knew who he was before he got here."
Weatherford has also introduced Brown to a new level of fitness. In a recent practice, the two -- plus long-snapper Zak DeOssie -- were running 100-yard sprints up and down the field while the rest of the team was going through drills. Brown also has followed Weatherford into the weight room and been picking the punter's brain on things such as nutrition, biomechanics and workout routines.
"I think you get a lot more respect from the guys in the locker room when they see you busting your hump in the weight room and not just kicking field goals and going to sit on the bench," Weatherford said. "I've been on four NFL teams and you get a little bit more street cred, you get a lot more respect from people, when they know you are working as hard as they are."
Brown isn't quite as muscle-bound as Weatherford. He's getting a late start on this new phase of fitness and hasn't been at it nearly as long. But Brown, 34, said the workouts may not help him physically kick a football as much as give him a better state of mind.
"More than anything it's confidence," he said. "Knowing that you're feeling strong and feeling confident, all of those things are going to transfer to the field."
While Brown has kept it close with the rest of the team, he's also been working on his deeper kicks. Just the other day, he and Weatherford and DeOssie sneaked away and worked on those kicks in the 40 to 49-yard range. They were 15-for-15.
At some point this season Brown will be asked to kick one of those, maybe even one farther than that. That's when he'll finally earn the team's trust.
"You feel it," he said of knowing when you've proven yourself to a new team. "It's an internal thing. It's an understanding. When people still talk to you after games and after practice, you can tell. You know when you perform well and you don't, you know when there's trust and you know when there's not."
For now, the Giants will have to trust that Brown will be able to kick the big field goals. Even if they can't see him doing it.