After serving in an unofficial role on the Patriots coaching staff last season, Troy Brown is listed as the assistant running backs coach this season helping out Ivan Fears.
Despite not playing the position during his time in the league, Brown has still found a way to make an early impression with his new position group.
“Troy’s been great to work with,” Rex Burkhead said in a video conference Wednesday. “Just his understanding of the game. Of course, he played many years here, so he’s familiar with the system, how things are run here. The biggest thing is technique-wise, route-running, certain things maybe you haven’t seen before or looked at that way just because I’ve played running back. He sees it from a wide receiver lens, and so it translates over to some of our routes and how we run them. He’s been great with that, teaching me, James (White) and all of the other backs certain ways to get to positions out there and really how to use our techniques.”
In addition, last year's assistant running backs coach, Cole Popovich, came with experience working with the offensive line. That helped a great deal, as well.
“I took a lot from Cole," Burkhead said. "Even with pass protection, the certain ways they block really helped us out with our techniques, as well. But just how he simplified the run game with us and understanding this guy’s going to work up to him and so forth and just how we should follow the blocks on this run. I thought he did a tremendous job of that. It’s something I really took heed of. I know all of the other backs did, as well. But we really tried to implement it in our game instead of just being running backs and relying off of our natural talent and what we see in our eyes but really understanding there’s a flow with the offensive line and really how they’re working the guys. He did a great job with that, and he’ll continue to do a great job for us.”
After a subpar year with the ground game last season, the Patriots are hoping for a bounce-back year in 2020.