Brown expects 'big' Year 2 after 'humbling' rookie season


ASHBURN -- For better or worse, the Washington Commanders' wide receiver room has been a hot topic of conversation throughout OTAs and minicamp.

The major buzz surrounding the pass-catcher group in Ashburn has been about star Terry McLaurin, who skipped the entirety of the offseason program as he seeks a new contract. But rookie Jahan Dotson has brought plenty of optimism to the receiver room, as the 16th overall pick has already begun to form a solid connection with new quarterback Carson Wentz.

With McLaurin and Dotson dominating the headlines, one target that has flown under the radar throughout the spring has been second-year receiver Dyami Brown. A third-round pick in 2021, Brown entered his rookie season with high expectations, but injuries and overall inconsistent play led to an underwhelming first professional season.

During this spring's offseason program, though, Brown has come with a newfound attitude, putting last year's struggles in the past and ready to prove the type of player he truly is.

"I think a whole lot of it is just having an understanding and more knowledge going into Year 2," Brown said Tuesday. "I had an offseason to sit back and reflect. I was able to watch and see the things I needed to learn."


Brown arrived in Washington as a rookie with plenty of confidence. It's understandable, as he was coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons to conclude his college career at North Carolina. The opportunity for him to make an immediate impact in Washington was there, too, especially with the Commanders' wide receiver room desperate for another playmaker.

The former UNC star began the 2021 season in a prominent role, as he started alongside McLaurin for the first three games of the season with Curtis Samuel sidelined. Yet, as it goes for many rookies, Brown was unable to replicate his success in college at the NFL level.

During that three-game stretch, Brown was targeted 12 times but hauled in just four receptions for 32 yards. From Week 4 on, Brown was in and out of the lineup and never able to establish a solid role in the offense. He finished his rookie season with six starts in 15 games, hauling in just 12 receptions for 165 yards and no touchdowns.

"It definitely was humbling," Brown said.

With the Tar Heels, Brown thrived as a vertical threat. Catching passes from now-Commanders rookie Sam Howell, Brown averaged over 20 yards-per-reception in each of his final two seasons in Chapel Hill. 

As a rookie, Washington hoped to take advantage of Brown's speed and ability to make plays down the field. Yet, Brown's impact as a whole kept to a minimum in 2021, as the wideout explained was largely due to him "being passive" when the ball was thrown his direction.

"A lot of it was going up," Brown said. "You can see like back then, there were a lot of balls I could have been aggressive [for], but I didn't. That was just a coaching point for me. I was going back, like 'this is what I need to do, go back up with my hands instead of letting the ball come down with the defender.'"

The struggles Brown experienced certainly impacted his mental approach to football, too. Brown admitted that towards the end of the year, he had to rediscover his love for the game after going through the trials and tribulations of an 18-week NFL season.

"It was crazy because I had a conversation with somebody in the offseason and I just had to appreciate the game instead of just being here," Brown said. "Football can end at any time. It's just appreciating the game, doing the things I need to do and giving thanks at all times."

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In many ways, this past offseason was a reset for Brown. The second-year wideout returned to the facility for the Commanders' offseason program this spring with newfound confidence, something wide receivers coach Drew Terrell believes has been clearly evident.


"His demeanor is different. He approaches things with a lot more confidence," Terrell said. "He's much more appreciative of the opportunity to step on an NFL field every day. You can tell he loves this game. He goes out and he works at it, he takes coaching, he does what you tell him to do.

"He knows he can play in this league now," Terrell continued. "With rookies, they've got to convince themselves that they can do it with repetition, going out and doing it. It's trial by fire your rookie year. You've got to go out there and earn it. That was good for him to experience last year."

With McLaurin absent, Brown had the opportunity to run with the first-team offense for the majority of Washington's offseason program. Those extra reps, especially with Wentz, have gone a long way for the second-year veteran.

"I think it's very beneficial," Brown said. "Sometimes, you need a little bit more repetition just to critique everything and be more precise. I think that's one thing that's helped me as well."

With McLaurin expected back, Dotson's emergence and the return of Curtis Samuel following an injury-plagued 2021 season, the truth is there's not a ton of pressure on Brown to perform right away. 

However, Brown's combination of size and speed gives opposing defenses a different look than those other three wideouts. And with Wentz -- a big-armed QB who's more than capable of throwing the ball downfield -- under center, Brown should certainly play a big role in the team's vertical attack.

"I think for a guy like that, a vertical type of guy [in Wentz], he's excited about it," Terrell said.

So, even though Brown is not expected to be an every-down player for Washington's offense, there are plenty of ways he can make a major impact for Scott Turner's unit this season. Brown knows that, too.

"I think Year 2 is a big one for me," Brown said.