HAYSVILLE — Early Saturday morning, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Arthur Brown donned a fisherman’s hat and went to work. Unglamorous work at that.
And he loved every minute of it.
“I honestly still see myself as one of these kids sometimes, see myself growing up with my brother and all the things that influenced us,” Brown said. “Now, my brother and I have the chance to be that influence. There’s nothing like being able to build something together, something for the future.”
Arthur, entering his second year with the Ravens, hosted a camp – the Future Elite Football Skills Camp – with his younger brother, Buffalo Bills running back Bryce Brown, for area youths for the second straight year at Campus District Stadium, with almost 200 campers coming out for morning and afternoon sessions.
“A lot of these kids have talent, but they don’t have experience or someone teaching them the fundamentals at a young age,” Arthur said. “Talent can only go so far. You need to have some teaching and some help.”
The two Wichita East and Kansas State products were joined by former teammate, fellow Wichitan and Kansas State senior linebacker Jonathan Truman at the camp. Last year, the Browns hosted two camps together at different locations, one in Haysville and one in Wichita – one with a defensive focus and one with an offensive focus – but decided to join forces this year with the help of longtime adviser and Potential Players founder Brian Butler.
“We felt like all the kids needed to get a taste of the offense and the defense, not just one or the other,” Bryce said. “I know, as a kid, that it was important for me to learn about both sides of the ball. You can’t be a good offensive player if you don’t know what the defense is doing and vice versa.”
Both brothers have undergone big changes in their lives in the last year, both on and off the field.
Arthur, a second-round pick in 2013, played in 14 games last season and finished with 15 tackles and one forced fumble while playing in a reserve role after signing a four-year, $3.554 million contract with a $964,896 signing bonus.
The end of the season represented a time for him to finally let his body heal – he underwent sports hernia surgery after the 2013 draft, which limited him during the team’s offseason training before his rookie year.
“Last year was a foundation year for me, a real stepping stone,” Arthur said. “I grew a lot in my rookie year ... everything was going nonstop for a long time it seemed, from ending my college season to the bowl game to the Combine to the pro day and all the preparation in between, I never had any time for rejuvenation or for healing.
“This year, it’s still a constant training mode of going from one phase to another in order to keep my mind and body sharp, but there was time to heal, a little time to relax.”
Bryce, entering his third season, was part of a May draft-day trade from Philadelphia to Buffalo after averaging 4.6 yards per carry in limited action with the Eagles over his first two seasons.
A report from ESPN.com last week indicated that the Bills were looking at Bryce as someone who could develop into a featured back — an opportunity he wasn’t going to get in Philadelphia playing behind NFC offensive player of the year LeSean McCoy.
When Philadelphia signed free agent Darren Sproles in the offseason, the writing was on the wall. Bryce’s rookie contract is up this season — he’ll make $570,000 — and a solid year could make him a hot commodity in the 2015 free-agent market.
“There was speculation I had trade value and that I might have a chance to go somewhere else, I just didn’t know when it was coming and that it was going to be Buffalo,” Bryce said. “My wife and I, when we found out, we were both excited. Philly has a special place in our hearts, but in this business you need to go where you have the opportunity.
“Learning from the veterans over the last couple of years, I understand that’s how this league works. Right now, everything depends on how fast I can learn the offense. That’s the biggest struggle for me right now, is learning all the plays and terminology as fast as I can and that’s on me.”
Bryce and his wife, Morgan, also welcomed their son Beckham, the couple’s first child, last fall.
“He’s 8 months old and he started crawling at 4 months and we’ve been chasing him ever since,” Bryce said, smiling. “Fatherhood has changed me, definitely. I have two people to take care of now and it’s important for me, that when my son grows up he can see that I’ve followed my dreams and been successful so that he knows that whatever he sets his mind to, whether it’s sports or something else, that he can do it.”