METAIRIE, La. — Charles Brown would like to forget the last time he played at the Edward Jones Dome.
But he can’t, not the worst game of his professional career and just his fifth start ever.
Sunday he’ll revisit the field of terrors, the site of a game in which he gave up two sacks, one of which was followed immediately by his man batting down a pass and the other by a false start.
And that’s not even mentioning the hip flexor he tore in the second half, ending his season.
“I didn’t forget it,” Brown said Thursday. “There was just nothing I could really do. I got hurt. I was playing bad and I got hurt in that game. I couldn’t really come back and have a good game after that.”
From that depth, however, he has risen to become the Saints permanent starting left tackle.
Not that that was easy, either.
Brown came into this summer’s training camp as questionable, at best, to be the team’s starting left tackle. The Saints brought in former top five pick Jason Smith into the fold and drafted a tackle in April.
Well, questionable in the public eye. Behind the scenes he was motivated regardless of the questions about his status.
He did, however, understand where the questions were coming from; he was inactive for 13 games as a rookie, finished 2011 on IR with the hip injury and ended ’12 on IR with a knee injury.
“I had been hurt every year,” Brown said. “I got to change something and not be hurt. But I wouldn’t say exactly because you guys were asking, but it’s a reality.”
To that end, Brown said he has added a bit of conditioning to his repertoire and has remained healthy this season.
And as the year has progressed, so has his game. After being flagged for nine penalties in the first 10 weeks, he has been called just once in the past month.
“It was just in my mind to try to not get these penalties,” Brown said. “I didn’t know they were adding up like that until (Coach Sean Payton) said something.”
Thursday, when asked about Brown’s progression this season, Payton said he has done well, having passed the most recent test against Carolina when he gave up no sacks against one of the NFL’s best defensive lines.
“I think he has handled it well and I think he’s been healthy and that has been giving him the reps and the consistency and all those things that you look for,” Payton said.
The experience he has gained since that fateful day in St. Louis has helped him in his final season under contract with the Saints.
He has started every game this season and hasn’t missed a single snap. He has given up five sacks this season according to Pro Football Focus and none since the Dallas game.
He also has new moves for the St. Louis defensive ends. While it was Chris Long in 2011, it’ll be Robert Quinn on Sunday.
Brown said in that game, Long was timing his punches perfectly, knowing exactly when to swipe away his hands so the end could get to the quarterback.
“I know to change it up now,” Brown said. “He definitely had more experience than me at that point.”
He added, “The experience is everything. Once you know what to do when you’re out there, that’s what sets you up for good sets.”