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'I just need reps': LB Baron Browning returns to field, focused on preparing for eventual game action

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — When Denver drafted Baron Browning in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Ohio State product became an intriguing addition to the Broncos' defense.

More than three months later, the Broncos will finally get to see his potential in action. 

After suffering an injury in rookie minicamp that landed him on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list to begin training camp, Browning returned to practice Monday and began his path back to the field.

"It feels great," Browning said Tuesday after his second practice. "I've been out three months. I've been pretty much watching everything from OTAs to fall camp. It really just feels good to be out there moving around."

Browning declined to get into the specifics of his injury, saying only that he suffered a right leg injury and had to wait for the injury to "calm down" after suffering a setback.

Head Coach Vic Fangio previously said Browning would be available for the beginning of training camp, but he became "stuck" in his recovery and was delayed in his return.

"[It] definitely was frustrating," Browning said. "I thought the same timeline, but I can only kind of control what I can, so I just kind of really stayed in the moment, where my feet was at, and just kept attacking rehab every day."

Browning said he focused on giving his leg enough time to heal and that it was important to not return too early and suffer a larger setback.

Both Fangio and Browning said they were unsure when the third-round pick could make his way into game action. The Broncos are slated to play the Seahawks on Saturday and the Rams on Aug. 28 before turning their attention to the regular season.

"We'll see how he proceeds," Fangio said on Monday. "I'm anxious to go watch the video of the few plays we gave him today. That's something we'll evaluate each and every day."

Browning said he is focused on "staying in the moment" and getting up to speed after missing several months of reps.

"I was in meetings, but [even] if you're in meetings for three months, nothing is the same as being out here," Browning said. "For me, I just need reps. I just need reps."

That process begins this week, as he returned to practice. He said he was unsure if he would play solely at inside linebacker, which is where the team placed him during rookie minicamp to begin his career. Browning participated in both seven-on-seven and 11-on-11 work at inside 'backer on Tuesday and said he's still getting comfortable back on the field.

"I feel fine, it's just knocking off that rust," Browning said. "I kind of asked Coach Vic during one of the water breaks if he had some WD-40 on him so I can just kind of grease my body back up."

Browning can tell he's making progress, though, as he said he was more comfortable on Tuesday than he was the previous day. He'll simply aim to continue that progression as he tries to earn a role on the team's defense and on special teams.

And whenever his time to play in a game arrives, Browning will be more than ready.

"I can show you how eager I am [to play]," Browning said. "I'll tackle you right now. … I'm eager. But like I said, I'm just trying to stay in the moment and not get too ahead of myself and just keep focusing on my craft and keep getting better every day."

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