NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Rookie wide receiver A.J. Brown didn't waste any time making his presence felt with the Tennessee Titans. Brown's big-time playmaking ability was on full display Sunday as he hauled in three receptions for 100 yards in the Titans' lopsided 43-13 victory over the Browns. He became the franchise’s first player to reach 100 receiving yards in his debut since Sid Blanks on Sept. 12, 1964.
"He's done a great job throughout camp," quarterback Marcus Mariota said of Brown. "Everyone talks about that transition into the NFL, but he's done a great job buying in, listening and doing everything he can to make himself prepared. Across the board, we had an expectation for him to do well. That's the standard. Now he has to continue to live up to that, and I think he can."
Two of Brown's three receptions showcased his ability to get yards after the catch. His first NFL reception was a 47-yard catch against man coverage by Denzel Ward, the Browns' top cover cornerback. Ward tried to bring Brown down after he made the catch, but Brown proved to be too strong and broke the attempted tackle to gain extra yards. It took two other defenders to bring him down. That play was an example of what head coach Mike Vrabel liked about Brown when he evaluated him before the draft.
"He's got really good size. I thought he caught the ball and turned upfield to get good yards after the catch," Vrabel said Monday of the Ole Miss product.
Brown, selected as an outfielder by the San Diego Padres in the 19th round of the 2016 MLB draft, showed off his ball skills as he tracked the football and went up to make the catch.
Brown's third reception was his best play of the day. Over 40 of the 51 yards Brown gained on the play came after he made the catch. He made three defenders miss, one with a stiff-arm and the other two with sharp cuts that left them reaching for air.
The only thing Brown didn't do on the play was get the ball into the end zone.
"Whenever I get the ball in my hands, I am trying to be physical and score touchdowns. ... I was joking on the sideline and was like, ‘In college, I would have scored.' I realize at this level, these guys are fast," Brown said after the game.
Despite missing all of of minicamp and over a week of training camp, Brown solidified a spot in the Titans' rotation, allowing the team to feel comfortable enough to trade third-year receiver Taywan Taylor to Cleveland in exchange for a 2020 seventh-round pick. Brown's 26 snaps at wideout were fourth-most on the team Sunday and four more than Adam Humphries.
"I think A.J. is really starting to understand what we're doing," Vrabel said. "The quarterbacks have begun to trust him."