FOXBORO -- Brandon Browner lined up across from Julian Edelman and got ready to do what he does best: press cover.
In a one-on-one period featuring receivers and corners, Browner stood at the line of scrimmage and jabbed at Edelman as the shifty receiver broke into his pattern. Instead of smothering his target and re-routing him, Browner nearly whiffed when Edelman darted to the middle of the field for an easy completion from Tom Brady.
It was a difficult matchup for New England's new 6-foot-4 cornerback, especially with no defensive help in the middle of the field. Edelman and receivers like him are sometimes able to avoid Browner's route-adjusting reach if they're able to duck contact before the jam.
But the sheer fact that Browner was allowed to finally get physical with receivers during the first padded practice of training camp had him fired up.
"It was great, man," Browner said of donning pads. "It always feels good to get those pads on and smack a little bit . . . I think [wearing pads] benefits [defenders]. Me as a press corner, you got pads to grab on and things like that. It slows the guys down on the other side of the ball."
The question is how long will Browner be allowed to play that way when the games count?
On Friday Bill Belichick addressed the fact that NFL officials will be placing a renewed emphasis on illegal contact and defensive holding calls this upcoming season. He seemed to bristle at the notion that a rule could be called differently when the wording of the rule never changed.
That's not to mention the fact it's a rule that could significantly affect Belichick's secondary. In Browner and Darrelle Revis, the Patriots have two of the strongest press corners in football. Their addition this offseason promised to change the face of the team's defensive backfield.
As far as Browner's concerned, he's going to keep doing his thing -- regardless of the rules that will be emphasized in 2014.
"I'm not gonna change my game," Browner said. "I'm not gonna let it bother me. I'm gonna force them to make the call. I'm gonna try to stay aggressive. That's what got me here."
Browner will be suspended for the first four regular-season games of the season, but he will be able to participate in training camp practices where there will be officials present. (That will occur for the first time during the week leading up to New England's preseason game with Philadelphia on Aug. 15.)
He said that even if he's flagged for a defensive holding or illegal contact violation, that won't necessarily change his style.
"I'm gonna wait until coach [Belichick] says something," he said with a smile.
Revis was asked about the new emphasis on enforcing penalties in the secondary and, like Browner, didn't seem bothered by the development.
"The rules are the rules," Revis said. "You’ve got to adjust to the rules. There are always new rules changing, and as long as we know the rules, we’re going to try to play great football -- clean and great football -- within the rules."
When it was suggested to Revis that the new emphasis may make his job as a physical corner more difficult, he shrugged off the thought.
"It’s already difficult as it is," he said. "Like I said, the rules are the rules. We’ve got to play within the rules. The league is always changing and evolving, so you’ve got to abide by the rules."