FOXBORO - Faced with an either-or situation, Brandon Browner established Wednesday what he believes to be the lesser of two evils.
The Patriots' new cornerback, late of the Seattle Seahawks, said he would risk the illegal contact penalty that has been the point of emphasis this year for the NFL's officials, rather than give up a touchdown.
"First of all, you don't think about that when you're out there," Browner told reporters standing around his locker. "You want to just play freely and try to eliminate the penalties. But at the same time, about that question, when you're between a penalty and a big play, I'd rather take the penalty than give up the big play, because the big play could ultimately be a touchdown.
"Illegal contact will cost you five yards and a first down, so I'd take the penalty," he continued. "But ultimately, you don't want the penalty. You want to play technique-sound, and play sound football."
Browner, known as one of the more physical cornerbacks in the league, could be an easy target for officials trying to eliminate contact with receivers more than five yards down the field.
"They said they would emphasize the holding and illegal contact down the field, so it was something that we were prepared for," he said. "Hopefully in the regular season they won't call as many, but if they do, we just have to take it seriously about getting our hands right in the placement and things like that, and try to reduce the penalties, because those things can cost you a big game somewhere along the season."
But while he doesn't want to take the physicality out of his play, Browner acknowledged that it wouldn't be a bad thing to focus a little more on technique going forward.
"That's the key to the game at the cornerback spot," he said. "Like they always say, the game is a game of inches. So you've got to be technique-sound out there to make plays and not get beat, and not get the penalties."
Browner said he is enjoying his move to the Patriots.
"It's a professional locker room, a professional atmosphere," he said. "You never know what you're getting into until you get there, but I've enjoyed every second of it."
He also likes the depth of the secondary - a factor that will come into play immediately this season as he sits out the first four games of the regular season because of a league-mandated suspension for testing positive for performance-enhancing substances.
"There's a lot of versatility," he said. "We've got great backups as well. We've got a lot of depth here at the cornerback spot. Our safeties have got range, guys like Devin (McCourty), so we've got range. Then over the top, we've got good guys that can play man-to-man.
"But at the same time, we're so far from where we want to be," he said. "We want to be hitting on all cylinders closer to playoff time and things like that, but we have to go out there and win in Week One and Week Two. So we can't look too far ahead, and build on these practices one at a time."
Hardly anyone expects Tom Brady to play a full 60 minutes against the Carolina Panthers Friday night at Gillette Stadium (7:30 p.m.; Ch. 4, 12), but he said Wednesday he expects to play a lot in the third preseason contest.
"Coach told us we're going to get a lot of work," Brady said. "What that means, I don't know. I don't think anyone ever knows with him. But we'll be prepared and ready to go for 60 minutes and hopefully it's a good 60 minutes. We've had a couple doozies in the third preseason game lately. It would be nice to have a good one."
Right tackle Sebastian Vollmer missed practice again Wednesday, although the reason remains undisclosed. Look for Marcus Cannon to get the bulk of right-tackle snaps with the first team Tight end D.J. Williams and defensive tackle Chris Jones also remained on the sidelines, while defensive tackle Sealver Siliga was working on a side field with his injured arm wrapped up NFL teams can keep 10 practice-squad players this year as opposed to eight, and the eligibility requirements have been loosened a little to make for a larger pool of available players.