Paint Browner red

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:29 AM ET

As lucky as the Calgary Stampeders feel about finding Brandon Browner, the lanky defensive back feels much more fortunate he landed a job in the CFL.

After a stellar college career at Oregon State, Browner declared for the NFL draft early but wasn't taken in 2005.

He went to training camp with the Denver Broncos as a free agent, then broke his arm and didn't play.

In the next season, the Broncos cut him and no one picked him up, so he counts his lucky stars the Stampeders offered him a chance to try out at this year's training camp after spending more than a year away.

"I didn't have any other options," Browner said.

"The Stampeders were the only call I had, so I took it.

"It was a great opportunity to play football and I'm happy I got it."

Now, the Oregon State product is breaking the mould of what a cornerback should look and play like in this league.

Throw a jump ball?

Browner will use his entire 6-ft.-4 frame and even longer wing span to get his hands on it.

Toss an underneath route?

Browner will jump up quickly and slam whoever tries to stretch for a first down.

Complete a pass over the middle of the field?

Browner will use his breakneck speed to catch the receiver and knock the ball loose, which is exactly what he did against T.J. Acree on Labour Day.

"It would be better if I had some more picks," Browner said. "We're getting the Ws right now, and I've been doing my job, but there's always room for improvement."

The 23-year-old, who is a strong candidate for rookie of the year, was in a tough spot before getting a job with the Stamps.

He and his girlfriend have an eight-month-old son and both are back in California. So although Browner plays a game, he takes his career seriously.

"That's the toughest thing to deal with," Browner said.

"Every day, I head home from practice, I call them to see how things are going.

"It's hard to be away from him because he's so young. He's my first child.

"But I'm happy when I'm on this field and I'm happy to be a Stampeder. It was tough on me because I had no job and a family to deal with. We were struggling, and I was letting a lot of people down.

"Plus I wasn't doing what I love doing. It was tough.

"The Stampeders are a blessing in so many ways right now.

"Things happen for a reason. I wasn't getting calls until they rang me. I had something they were looking for. Things worked out best."

Because of his lanky, thin legs, Stampeders teammates have started calling him Chopsticks.

He doesn't mind, because there are certainly worse things to be.

"I've had these skinny legs all my life," Browner said.

"People have clowned around about my legs since I was six years old. It's something I deal with. I have a strong upper body, so it all evens out."

Browner considers himself a student of the game and spends every free moment studying players.

He sometimes get into arguments with teammates about which players he feels are great and who aren't.

"I'm a big fan of football and very passionate about the game," he said. "I'm like most players in that I want to be better than the next man, play harder than the next man. I bring that energy and that passion to the game.

"It's the extra oomph I give that hopefully separates me from them."


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