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Jammal Brown Explains His Knee Braces

Posted by Matt Terl on August 12, 2010 – 12:43 pm

I largely ignored the announcement that the Buffalo Bills — tomorrow night’s preseason opponent! — were making it mandatory for all their offensive linemen to wear braces on both knees. Then I noticed that new Redskins tackle Jammal Brown, a two-time Pro Bowler with no history of knee problems that I could find, chose to brace both knees at practice. And that made me a little curious.

“It’s ’cause of college,” Brown told me. “You know, in college they made us wear ’em. It just got to a comfort level to where I feel more comfortable wearing ’em.”

That’s primarily “comfortable” in a psychological sense, of course, not a physical one. “If somebody falls into your knee or what-not,” Brown said, “it’ll always give you some type of comfort on the ACL.”

For Brown, though, the braces also do provide a bit of physical comfort. “I’m a little slew footed,” Brown said. “And real, real flat footed. Like a lot of people see me walking and think I’m walking with a limp. But no, I’m just real flat footed. And it helps that, too. It helps that for me.”

(Actually, that last bit came as something of a relief, since more than a few people had asked me about Brown’s apparent limp after seeing him at open practices, and it’s nice to have an answer to give.)

The obvious follow-up question, then, is why EVERYONE doesn’t wear them.
“‘Cause you don’t have to,” Edwin Williams said, laughing. “Honestly, I feel like you’re a little slower. I didn’t really have a problem with leverage, but I think that may be an issue as well.”

Williams had more reasons as well. “When we used to run sprints after practices with the knee braces, I’d be so cramped up, my calves would cramp. And they’re just a hassle, man. I sweat a lot, so they slip. A lot.”

Basically, in my impromptu asking around, it seemed that the further people got from wearing knee braces in college, the less they liked the idea. Which might explain why rookie left tackle Trent Williams still isn’t sure what he’ll do as a pro.

Williams, like all college linemen, wore the braces during his college career. “I didn’t love it,” he said, “but I appreciated ’em.”

And now, he said, “I don’t know if you really can argue against ’em. It’s your own preference. But I definitely know that they do save you. Guys don’t wear ’em because without ’em, you feel feel a little bit quicker. Feel like you can move a little faster.”

Still, even with kickoff just a relatively few hours away, Williams isn’t sure if he wants to bring the knee braces up to the pro level. “I might see how it goes the first game,” he said. “I dunno. We’ll see — it’ll be a gametime decision.”

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