Have you ever kept a journal?
A notebook to collect your thoughts, maybe center yourself at the end of the day. A place where you can keep track of what's gone on, positive or negative, so you can look back and see how far you've come.
Until recently, Jamon Brown had never done such a thing before. But when his wife put a journal in this year's version of her "training camp survival pack," he decided to take up the activity.
"I was actually like, 'What do you want me to do with this?'" Brown recalled of his first reaction to the journal. "But at night, when the day is done, it's kind of come to a close, I lay down in the bed and I kind of just put my thoughts on the pad. And I think it's been helping me keep my mind clear, helping me stay positive, and helping me move forward each day."
Generally, Brown is a positive guy with a lot of energy. He's the kind of player who walks onto the field with a smile on his face, always eager to get better within the day's session. That was his body language even when he came into OTAs as a backup. But it's become more pronounced as he's entered camp as the starting right tackle.
"That most definitely is motivation," Brown said. "And just battling, battling and being able to kind of get in the spot where I can play, that was most encouraging. So coming in and being the starting right tackle, I'm trying to make sure I stay the starting right tackle."
It's been an up and down road for Brown to get to this point. Selected in the third round of the 2015 draft, Brown was one of a handful of offensive linemen the Rams brought in that year to stabilize the position group. While he initially worked at right guard in tandem with fellow rookie Rob Havenstein at right tackle, Brown worked at left guard that year, too. He started the first nine games of that season before suffering a season-ending leg injury.
Then Brown began last season splitting time at right guard with Cody Wichmann. He ended up starting one game at that spot before suffering a fracture in his left hand during the week of practice in London. He ended up starting four more games in 2016, all at left guard.
So entering this season, Brown wasn't necessarily on the radar for a starting role. But that changed once the coaches saw what he was capable of during the offseason program.
"I think what you like about Jamon is his demeanor. I think he's got a great disposition where he's willing to be coached," head coach Sean McVay said back in May. "He's got good movement for a big, physical player. And when he gets his hands on people, he certainly does a nice job of securing the line of scrimmage — whether that's in the run game or in protection when he jump-sets people. But what he showed last week was very encouraging."
Brown wasn't even working at tackle during the initial stages of the offseason program, which makes his ability to get back into the position as he has that much more impressive. He said this experience has reassured him of his ability to adapt and adjust.
"From making the switch from college to the NFL — going from tackle to guard — and then now being in the NFL going from guard back out to tackle, just kind of reassured me that I can adjust and adapt. And I'm good to be on this level," Brown said.
Part of Brown's ascent has come from working with new offensive line coach Aaron Kromer. The Louisville product complimented Kromer's ability to teach, saying the coach's attention to detail in answering questions helps set him apart.
"Being able to pick his brain about different thing that happen to me on the field — what do I need to change? Do I change this? And he's able to kind of give me what I need. It's been great," Brown said. "And I think it's been a big help for all of us."
Brown also credits offensive line free agent additions Andrew Whitworth and John Sullivan for helping to bring some stability and improvement to the unit.
Check out photos from Day 5 of the Los Angeles Rams Training Camp presented by AT&T.
"You look at those guys and how they go about their business day in, day out — they approach it the same, they attack it the same. So you kind of feed off their energy of how to be a pro," Brown said. "Whenever we're out on the field, I go to Whit, he's able to give me different things — maybe fix this, kind of turn this a little smidge. He's able to give me things that he sees and that's helped him have success. And I think that's just all across the board for everybody."
"Jamon's a young, talented guy," Whitworth said this week. "He's going to be a good football player for this organization. Looking forward to watching him grow, too."
Being a center, communication is a significant part of Sullivan's job description. And according to Brown, the way Sullivan makes calls at the line has made him better.
"He's decisive," Brown said. "And that, I think, allows the people around him to be more confident and just be more confident in themselves. It's, 'OK, if I make a decision, I'm going to go with it.'"
The Rams' moves to improve their defense have had consequences for Brown, too. Playing right tackle, Brown often squares off with veteran outside linebacker Connor Barwin when he pass rushes.
"Going against Connor has been huge to me because he's such a pro. He's been doing it for a while," Brown said. "And he allows me to be able to work at thing that I'm going to have to do in the game — I'm going to need in the games. And there's no better look than a guy like that. I couldn't ask for anything more than that.
"And yeah, there's times where he gets the best of me. But, you know, I'm a competitor," Brown continued. "So I come right back and I'm not afraid to step back at the plate and get ready to take another swing."
It's a baseball metaphor, but it's the way Brown has gone about his entire NFL career so far. When he's had his opportunities, Brown doesn't often appear to make the same mistake twice. During the offseason program, McVay complimented Brown's willingness and ability to be coached. And so when Brown names what he'd like to improve about his game before the end of camp, there's a sense he'll be able to realize his goals.
"Just working hand in hand with my hands and my feet. Just making sure if I'm punching, I keep my feet moving. Or of my feet or moving, I've got to make sure I'm using my hands. So just kind of making sure they go together and I'm not doing one more than I'm doing the other," Brown said. "I think that's what will make me be really successful."
And it'll make a fine journal entry at the end of the night.