There was a time last year when Marquise "Hollywood" Brown was down to 157 pounds. His foot was hurting, he didn't feel strong. Imagine playing in the NFL when you don't feel physically strong.
Brown didn't want to have that feeling again, and he attacked the offseason to make sure of it.
As he enters training camp for his second season, Brown is up to 180 pounds and healthy. Confidence has built up in him like the muscle on his smaller frame.
The Ravens' 2019 first-round pick hasn't been shy about declaring that he's going to have a breakout season, and everyone around him sees it coming too.
"I feel I got bright days ahead," Brown said. "I feel 100 times better than I did last year."
"Just looking at him, man, he looks like a totally different kid than I saw last year," veteran wide receiver Willie Snead IV said. "I'm super excited to see what he can do."
If you're not on social media or your COVID-19 quarantine has been under a boulder, you've seen Brown's incredible offseason workout videos.
It started with just getting healthy. Brown has never gone into too much detail, or complained, about how much his foot hurt last year. The end of his college career was cut short by a Lisfranc foot fracture, which required surgery that kept him sidelined for much of last offseason.
Brown was on the field for Week 1, but his two long touchdowns on his first two NFL catches in Miami masked the pain he was feeling. He never felt he was "himself" last year and still tied a Ravens rookie franchise record with seven touchdowns. He hauled in 46 receptions for 584 yards and was one of Baltimore's most impressive offensive weapons in the playoff loss.
Soon after the playoff loss, Brown vowed to be a better player in his second season. His rookie year was just the preview.
"I just wanted to get back to my old self," Brown said. "Started off in the beginning of the year just working on my foot, getting my leg back right, my whole left side of my body. And then, ramping up into May and June, I started moving around, doing routes, cutting. Then June and July, I started back working on my speed. I just took the time out to address every part of my body, just to make sure I was going into the year right."
While he was gaining weight, he wanted to make sure he wasn't losing his trademark speed. After all, that's a big part of what makes Brown so special. So he kept running the whole time, and the Ravens sent him a GPS tracker so he could keep track of his speed.
Brown says he doesn't "feel" the additional 23 pounds on his frame.
"I don't really feel it, because I guess I put together a pretty good regimen with the running," Brown said. "So, it wasn't something where I just put weight on, and then I'll just try to get out there and just start running. It wasn't like that. It took time for the weight to, actually, even stick on me. I would gain the weight, lose it, gain the weight, and lose it. It started sticking around June. I'm just trying to keep pushing forward."
Brown weighed around 170 to 173 pounds while at Oklahoma, where he topped 1,000 yards each of his two seasons and scored 17 touchdowns. So, really, he's only added an addition 10 pounds or so to what he was accustomed to playing at.
Brown said he hasn't yet touched the speeds he was running at Oklahoma, but that on his first day of running this offseason, not even going his top speed, he matched the fastest speed he's run since joining the Ravens. Hayden Hurst registered the team's top speed in a game last year on his long touchdown in Buffalo. This year, it would be surprising if Brown didn't hold that title.
But it's more than just speed that Brown plays to kill with this season. It's a better all-around game by virtual of being stronger. Last year, he would often go to the ground before contact was made or even go backwards to avoid it. Part of that was because he was trying to do a move and his foot would give out on him. The other part was self-preservation.
This year, Snead said the first thing Brown told him at the Under Armour Performance Center was that he was "trying to block somebody" and "set the tone in the run game."
"I think it'll help me absorbing hits off the catch, blocking, anything physical," Brown said of his added muscle. "Just to be able to have that extra weight and strength behind you to help with injuries.
"I feel back to normal, sort of to say. I feel back to myself."
Baltimore's veterans are back for training camp and ramping up to the on-field action.