The Redskins running back had a strong game in Tampa Bay last year to finish out the preseason. This year, he'll have the same opportunity and hope to make the active roster this time.
For the second year in a row, the Redskins will take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium to close out the preseason. For the second year in a row, running back Mack Brown will be doing everything he can to make a final impression for coaches just a couple days before the team cuts 37 players.
Brown had no trouble recalling last year's affair, which was moved up a day due to a Tropical Depression moving into the Tamp, Fla., area. On a sloppy and slippery field, Brown had a career game, rushing for 149 yards and a touchdown with his family in attendance.
"I was like, I got to go, I got to make some plays, I got to ball out," Brown remembered. "No excuses, really, no matter what the weather is."
His performance wasn't enough to make the team's active roster – undrafted running back Rob Kelley, who ran for 99 yards that game, made it over him -- and he was placed onto the practice squad, a sobering reminder of the league's harsh realities. Brown would eventually play in a Week 16 game against the Bears, rushing eight times for 82 yards and a touchdown, his only touches of 2016.
"It's crazy," Brown said. "Everybody's journey is different. Kelley's a baller. We went into the game together, both put up some numbers in that game, so just thankful."
After a full calendar year, Brown is in the same position but has more confidence in his roles and responsibilities. He has a much stronger grasp of the offense, trust from the coaches in his ability and better camaraderie with his teammates.
Check out these photos of the Redskins' preparing for their preseason Week 4 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Monday, Aug. 29, 2017, at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park.
"Last year, even though you probably saw my stats, a lot of people thought I should have made the team, but I didn't know the protections, there's no way I think I should have made the team last year," Brown said. "This year, I'm paying faster in my protections, I know where runs [are] going, I'm a better overall player in the offense now because coach Randy [Jordan], Coach [Jay] Gruden got me ready and Coach Cav[anaugh] got me ready for the season. Maybe the stats in the preseason don't look like that, because we didn't really run the ball that much, but I'm excited for this game Thursday, get my feet wet a little bit."
Brown said Tuesday he was already locked into Thursday's game, blocking any extra noise on social media that might influence his attitude. His family is going to drive down from Atlanta, Ga., once again to see him play ("Any game can be your last game, so to have your family support in the stadium is big for me," he reasoned.) and is hoping to see another productive game.
"I feel like any game I touch the ball is a big game," Brown said. "Today's practice is a big practice for me. You're always getting looked at by everybody in the league, so every day I use practice as a game, so whether it's preseason or regular season, I'm taking it as a Super Bowl game.
"Nothing [is] ever guaranteed so you just got to leave the destination in God's hands," he added. "I always knew if I leave my destination in God's hands, it will work out."