Chad Brown, who celebrated his one-week anniversary with his new team Thursday, read a screen pass with ease and expertise. And he would have blown up the running back had the Steelers allowed such things to happen in practice.
Nobody told the 36-year-old backup linebacker the screen pass was coming.
Still, Chad Brown knew it was coming.
"It's the red zone," Brown said. "People like to apply pressure in the red zone. How do you stop pressure? You screen people."
A plus B equals C; call the field-goal team.
"I've been around for a while," Brown said.
That he's back with the Steelers isn't an unprecedented development, especially since the organization softened its once all-but-ironclad stance against such trips down memory lane.
Cornerback Willie Williams left and returned eventually.
So did defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau.
So, it's not as if Brown has personally shattered a long-standing tradition.
But it's also true that, as recently as 1998, when it was thought that cornerback Rod Woodson might return to the Steelers, then-director of football operations Tom Donahoe responded with a cold, calculated, "we're not the Salvation Army."
The Steelers are more practical about those situations these days.
"I prefer that attitude," Brown said. "I don't think vengeance should be part of your business decisions."
Brown left via free agency after a 13-sack, All-Pro season in 1996, accepting a six-year, $24 million contract from the Seattle Seahawks that included a $7 million signing bonus -- at the time, eye-opening money for a defensive player.
The Steelers' offer "wasn't comparable," Brown said, acknowledging an economic reality the team apparently never took personally.
"Although they had a certain view of free agency and how they were going to deal with it, they didn't burn the bridge," Brown said. "Whenever we would play the Steelers, coach (Bill) Cowher and (Steelers chairman) Mr.(Dan) Rooney and all those guys, we were very cordial and nice.
"I would say how much I missed them and being a part of the organization, and they would say how much they missed me. We still had a great rapport."
Brown first contemplated re-joining the Steelers last season, but ultimately, he opted for New England because of a greater likelihood that he might land a starting job.
Again, no hard feelings.
Last week, when the Steelers found themselves without linebackers Joey Porter and James Harrison, Brown found himself a job.
He'd played inside and outside linebacker and rush end in LeBeau's defense, and despite eight years with the Seahawks, it was still the defensive system with which Brown was most familiar.
He still loved the game, perhaps more than he did during his first go-around with the Steelers, when he publicly acknowledged he might consider other employment if it paid as well. And Brown thought he could still play.
The sack he recorded while working as a rush end in passing situations last Sunday in a 45-7 win over Kansas City revealed as much.
So did the screen pass he sniffed out in yesterday's practice.
Brown might not get another sack this Sunday in Atlanta. But he'll remain appreciative of the opportunity to re-join the franchise that brought him into the NFL as a second-round draft pick out of Colorado in 1993 -- for a number of reasons.
"The stability of the organization, the trust that they hire good people and let them do their jobs," Brown said. "The city itself. The kids around here grow up wearing Steeler diapers; there are Steeler bibs for sale. The fan base is not wishy-washy or temporary. This is who they are.
"The whole city identifies itself with the team, and the team identifies itself with the city. You can't separate the two. I don't think it's that way anywhere else."