Windsor native makes NFL debut

Published 12:12 pm Saturday, December 5, 2015

Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Daniel Brown smiles prior to Monday nights game in Cleveland. Brown recorded 17 plays in his NFL debut. -- SHAWN HUBBARD | BALTIMORE RAVENS

Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Daniel Brown smiles prior to Monday nights game in Cleveland. Brown recorded 17 plays in his NFL debut. — SHAWN HUBBARD | BALTIMORE RAVENS

Just hours before Monday night’s game against the Cleveland Browns, former Isle of Wight and James Madison football star Daniel Brown was promoted from the Baltimore Ravens’ practice squad to the team’s active roster. In his first non-preseason action, Brown was on the field for 17 plays — seven on offense and the rest on special teams — and was targeted once, though he had no receptions.

“It was an unreal experience playing in my first NFL football game, especially when your debut is on a national stage,” Brown said. “It was something I’ve dreamed about ever since I was a little kid.”

The 6-foot-5, 227-pound wide receiver recorded four catches for 58 yards and two touchdowns in three preseason games with the Ravens. He also blocked a punt against the Atlanta Falcons to give the Ravens an opportunity to win their final exhibition game and earn himself a non-guaranteed practice squad contract.

With that, Brown was free to sign with another team’s 53-man roster at any point during the season or wait for an opening on Baltimore’s roster to be called up. His hard work in practice paid off when the Ravens cut one wide receiver and placed a tight end on injured reserve.

“I received a call from one of the personnel people saying they needed me to come downstairs and sign cause they were going to promote [me],” Brown said. “The coaches had hinted it a couple days earlier, so I kind of had an idea when it happened. It was definitely an unreal feeling knowing that I was going to make my NFL debut.”

Brown said that his parents were the first people he called when he heard the news.

“They were just anxiously waiting for me to confirm that I had signed so they could catch their flight to Cleveland to see me play,” he said.

Brown was mentioned by special teams coordinator and associate head coach Jerry Rosburg following the game as he talked about how well the special teams units played despite the roster turnover.

“Our practice squad players are competing during practice. They’re not just holding a bag or going through the motions,” Rosburg said. “They’re actually competing with the guys that are getting ready for the game, and it’s our belief that this helps us when an injury happens, when a roster change happens. [It is] where a guy like Daniel Brown, who really wasn’t even on the roster up until game day, can go in and play on special teams, because he has been practicing. He has been doing it. He did it in preseason. He has been practicing at a competitive level during practices, and then he can go in the game and go play.”

Brown will have an opportunity to make his first career reception today when the Ravens travel to Miami to play the Dolphins. Football in his hands or not, he just understands how fortunate he is to play the game he loves.

“Nothing is the NFL is guaranteed, so I’ll just have to continue to prove myself and show the coaches I deserve to be on the active roster,” Brown said. “From here, I’ll just continue to work hard because the goal is to stay on the active roster for the remainder of the season. I think the coaches saw all the hard work that I had been putting in at practice, and me knowing the offense so well allowed them to give me the opportunity to be promoted.”