CINCINNATI — Orlando Brown Jr. skipped out on an opportunity to visit the White House on Monday when President Joe Biden welcomed his former Kansas City Chiefs team to celebrate its Super Bowl championship.
As much fun as that might have been, the new Cincinnati Bengals left tackle instead was right where he wanted to be, beginning Organized Team Activities with his current team.
Brown signed a surprisingly budget-friendly four-year, $64 million contract with the Bengals after spending two seasons with Kansas City, helping the Chiefs to an AFC Championship win over Cincinnati in January, followed by a Super Bowl win over Philadelphia. He had reportedly wanted a much larger sum last summer when the Chiefs were working on an extension for him.
“For me, I’m just focused on getting better,” Brown said Tuesday. “I’m here now, and I didn’t want to end up missing a day, and we had to be here (Monday). It was an opportunity for me to get some work in. I’m happy to be part of this organization and moving forward in that direction.”
The Bengals acquired Brown to upgrade protection on Joe Burrow’s blindside, and he appreciated Cincinnati giving him the opportunity to stay at left tackle, something that was important to him.
Brown has tried to use his time efficiently during the Bengals’ offseason workouts, and on his own time, to learn the offense, and he said he’s settling in well with the offensive line. Despite being the new guy in the group, he’s already stepping up as a leader and spending extra time working with left guard Cordell Volson to help him in his continued development but also to make sure they are on the same page, being next to one another on the line.
“Just getting to learn the system, getting to understand the guys, working with Cordell a ton,” Brown said. “I think it’s also important for this time of year to be able to build that camaraderie. That’s what this time is for, getting to know your teammates off the field as well.”
The Bengals do their offseason program a lot different than what Brown experienced with the Chiefs and Ravens in the past, he said. Cincinnati’s method is much less intense but still productive.
Cincinnati is doing one less week of OTAs, as many began them last week, and the team has not done live 11-on-11s yet.
“It’s very different,” Brown said. “Everywhere I’ve been it’s been live 11-on-11 pretty much at this point in time in the year, and here they really give you an opportunity to focus on your body, really give you the opportunity to focus on the system and getting ahead mentally. I think that’s probably the biggest thing being here is just the edge in the way you are able to get ahead mentally. It’s very different than other places just because in most situations, most teams I’ve been on, you’re throw into the physical 11-on-11s, where it’s rapid fire. Here they give you that opportunity to slow it down with the walkthroughs, your meeting times, your on-the-field walking through as an offense against the defenses. It’s awesome.”
Asked which way he prefers, he laughed and said, “I’m here. I prefer this.”
Brown said he doesn’t have any concerns about the workload not being challenging enough. The Bengals way of doing things has proven effective in preventing a lot of the soft-tissue injuries that might have occurred late in the season otherwise, he said.
Brown has proven a durable player, starting in every regular season game the past four years, including the last two seasons with Kansas City and the 2019-2020 seasons with Baltimore. He also started 10 games as a rookie with the Ravens in 2018.
Even if the Bengals aren’t full-go yet, Brown said this is the time where he really ramps up his personal work routine. Next week the offseason workout program concludes with a mandatory minicamp, and then the team will break for about six weeks until training camp.
“The closer to training camp you get, it’s more and more time to lock in,” Brown said. “This is kind of the area in my training where I start turning the corner. I’m lifting heavier in the weight room, I’m focused more on my diet, focused more on my conditioning. Not that I wasn’t serious before, but it’s just really taking that next step, just being so much closer to training camp.”