Brown embraces fresh start in Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH -- The Steelers are hoping that a change of scenery helps unlock the potential that persuaded the Arizona Cardinals to draft Levi Brown fifth overall in 2007.

Not that the Steelers’ newest left tackle candidate has had much of a chance to take in his new surroundings.

Brown arrived in Pittsburgh late last Thursday afternoon and spent that night as well as Friday learning the Steelers’ playbook under the tutelage of offensive line coach Jack Bicknell Jr.

Brown returned to Arizona over the weekend to spend time with his wife, who is due to have the couple’s first two children -- that’s right, twins -- the day after Christmas, and Brown took part in his first Steelers practice Monday.

“It’s definitely a change of atmosphere as far as the team is concerned,” Brown said Monday afternoon, “but I’m excited and willing to go out here and help turn this thing around.”

The Steelers are desperate for help at the all important position of left tackle, which is why Brown returned to the state where he played his college ball.

Mike Adams is not ready to handle the position, and the Steelers will turn to Brown or Kelvin Beachum at left tackle, if not use some combination of the two, to protect quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s blind side.

Brown said he and Beachum each took reps with the first-team offense on Monday.

“I’m here to help out,” Brown said. “I’m a veteran and they have a lot of young guys at the tackle position so I’m going to go out there and teach them what I’ve learned over the years, what to expect, let them know that things don’t always go your way but you fight through it.”

Brown had to fight his way through his share of adversity in Arizona.

Despite starting 79 of 81 career games with the Cardinals, the 6-foot-6, 324-pounder never lived up to expectations.

Part of that may have been due to the reality that expectations for Brown were inflated by the fact that the Cardinals passed on players such as running back Adrian Peterson and linebacker Patrick Willis to draft the former Penn State All-American.

It didn’t take Cardinals fans long to sour on Brown. A new regime in Arizona followed suit as the Cardinals were so eager to jettison Brown that they agreed to pay most of what the seventh-year veteran is owed this season and will only receive a low-round draft pick in return for him.

The Cardinals had signed Brown to a five-year, $30 million contract in 2012, but he missed all of last season with a torn triceps. He quickly fell out of favor this season with new Arizona coach Bruce Arians, and Brown will now try to resuscitate his career in Pittsburgh.

“When you have inconsistency, things like that happen,” Brown said of the trade, “and it’s one of those things where they felt like they needed to go in a different direction. I’m fine with it. I’ll come out here and do what I have to, compete and go out there and try to play.”

The trade reunites Brown with Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley.

Haley was the Cardinals offensive coordinator in Brown’s first two seasons with Arizona.

“Todd is an interesting fella. Let me just leave it at that,” Brown said with a chuckle. “Everybody has their arguments. I’m not sure he’s necessarily in my corner, but at this point, obviously, I’m here so he liked that fight in me so I appreciate it.”

Learning new terminology is Brown’s biggest challenge right now, but he said he feels good about the progress he has made in regard to the Steelers playbook.

His wife will stay in Arizona until she gives birth to their twins -- the Browns are expecting their arrival in late November since twins are generally born before their due date -- so Brown’s situation isn’t exactly ideal.

But he is looking forward to getting a fresh start in Pittsburgh even if the Steelers are still winless.

“I’ve been on a few bad teams, but I feel like this team knows how to win," Brown said, "and these guys could easily be 2-2 right now, and you guys wouldn’t be on their back as much.”