Texans left tackle Duane Brown's coaches and teammates often say he has been playing at an elite level for years – he's just finally getting the recognition.
A first-team All-Pro and first-time Pro Bowler, Brown arrived in Honolulu on Tuesday for the start of NFL all-star week festivities. It didn't take long for him to realize that he belonged.
"The first night, Peyton Manning came up to me and I talked to him," Brown said, referencing the three-time NFL MVP quarterback of the Denver Broncos. "I didn't feel like he would know exactly who I was, but he just told me how great of a player I was. That meant a lot. That's a guy who's been doing it for a long time and will go down as arguably the best quarterback to play the game."
It was a seminal moment for Brown, one that he has earned by becoming one of the best tackles in football over the past few seasons. Brown had just one year of experience at left tackle when the Texans drafted in him the first round out of Virginia Tech in 2008. That pick was met with rampant skepticism at the time but now appears quite prescient.
Brown has started 76 games in his five-year career, every game possible save for a four-game suspension in 2010. He has been penalized for holding just twice. He allowed anywhere from zero to 2.5 sacks in 2011, depending on the statistical service of choice. Brown anchored the Texans' O-line again this season as the team ranked seventh in rushing and allowed Matt Schaub to be sacked just 27 times, one of the loweset totals in the NFL.
"I really appreciate the fact that I've been acknowledged for good play," Brown said on Thursday after practice at the Hickam-Pearl Harbor joint military base. "I'm just trying to come out here and set an example throughout the week and on Sunday.
"It's been an incredible experience. It's a chance to come out here and enjoy Hawaii. It's raining today (Thursday), but it's still Hawaii. It's a chance to just bond with a lot of guys around the league, especially with my fellow teammates out here. It's just an awesome time."
Duane Brown settling in among NFL elite at Pro Bowl
NFL.com | Jan 25