FOXBORO -- When Patriots rookie receiver Malcolm Mitchell lined up for a drill across the line of scrimmage from the 44-year-old with the backwards baseball cap, he needed no introduction.
"Of course I knew who he was," Mitchell said. "I think anybody who watched football growing up would know who he is."
For those who watched Patriots football in the 1990s and 2000s, Troy Brown is still an easily-recognizable figure. That's in part because he looks like he's in good enough physical shape to take a few snaps lined up in the slot as he did so often during his 15-year career, which lasted from 1993-2007.
Brown's playing days are long behind him now, but he found another way to get onto the Gillette Stadium practice fields this week for mandatory minicamp. The former receiver and return specialist -- and current Patriots anaylst for Comcast SportsNet New England -- spent Tuesday and Thursday helping to coach Patriots players.
Whether he was instructing wideouts on their releases from the line of scrimmage or teaching the finer points of punt-returning (as he did for rookie Cyrus Jones after Jones muffed a punt on the final day of camp), Brown doled out his share of wisdom.
It was received with open arms.
"It was good," Patriots receiver Keshawn Martin said. "When he was here, he was one of those guys that really worked hard and made plays when plays [came] his way. It's good to have a guy like that out there. Just to have his voice, it's good for us."
"He's done it all," Martin added, "so I feel like he can help us with everything, whether it's returns or receiver stuff. It's a benefit for us."
A member of the Patriots Hall of Fame, Brown caught 557 passes for 6,366 yards and 31 touchdowns in his career. Though he is nine years into retirement, Brown is still able to relate to the youngest of Patriots, and his career accomplishments -- accomplishments that still are played back on film from time to time in Patriots meetings -- give him the kind of clout that make his advice worth heeding.
After putting together a strong day of work Thursday, Mitchell called Brown "phenomenal" and explained just how much he appreciated the three-time Super Bowl champion's mentorship.
"For me, it's just transitioning," said Mitchell. "Troy has a great understanding of everything, truthfully. Just being a guy you can go [to], ask extra questions . . . It's great."