Bradley Handwerger / Sports Reporter
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METAIRIE, La. Charles Brown stopped the question before it was evenly halfway finished, quite sure the answer would be the same no matter how it was completed.

'You don't even gotta finish the question,' the Saints' left tackle candidate interjected. 'Positive all the time.'

He has to be.

Because anyone with his history of injury would have to wonder if they were snake-bitten.

Brown has had his past two seasons ruined by season-ending injuries, one a hip pointer, the other a torn medial collateral ligament. And he began this offseason's organized team activities with an undisclosed injury that kept him sidelined early.

The fourth-year lineman won't say he's snake-bitten, however, questioning the term and its use.

'I've been injured a couple of times,' he said. 'That's what it is. I've been injured.'

For some, it might appear that Brown is gliding through, not willing to play through pain.

But right tackle Zach Strief said that's not that case and, in fact, is quite the opposite.

'You're talking about doing something very physical with some of the best athletes in the world,' he said. 'Can you do it with one leg? No. Trust me.'

Strief provided a cautionary tale, comparing the early part of Brown's career with that of Jon Stinchcomb's, who played little in his first two seasons before rupturing his right patella tendon in training camp his third year. Stinchcomb followed that up by then starting 80 consecutive games, not including six playoff appearances. He earned a Pro Bowl berth in 2009.

'I'm thinking of Jon Stinchcomb as one of the toughest guys I've ever played with, as physical and tough as anyone I ever played with, and yet when I came here, that was his stigma, too,' Strief said. 'So there's a reason Charles is still here. It's because he's more than talented enough to be not just a player but a good player. He's working to be that.'

It's others, though, that he says he has learned from since being drafted in the second round of the 2010 draft. Zach Strief and Jermon Bushrod helped guide along the former Southern California standout.

'I learned a whole lot,' Brown said. 'I learned how to prepare. I learned how to watch film. I've learned hand moves. I've learned sets. I've learned a lot from them.'

Make no mistake, however.

Brown is going into training camp believing he's the No. 1 left tackle on the team in spite of the fact that that the Saints signed free agent Jason Smith and drafted Terron Armstead.

'I'm healthy and I have the opportunity to come out next season and be the starter,' Brown said.

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