In his three years before coming to the Eagles, Bryce Brown carried a football 104 times. In three months as an Eagles running back, Brown has carried the ball 103 times. This is why the Eagles are being patient with the talented 21-year-old, who can seduce observers with his skills and infuriate them with his gaffes.

Brown, a rookie seventh-round pick, started the last four weeks in LeSean McCoy's place. He rushed for more than 160 yards and scored two touchdowns in each of his first two starts. He totaled 40 yards in the next two. He also lost three fumbles in those four games and has been involved with a fumbled exchange twice this season.

"At [21] years old, the growth process is not over," running backs coach Ted Williams said. "The growth process for him . . . when it gets all put together, it's going to tell how good he can be."

No one knows yet, because of Brown's interrupted college career. He was the top recruit in the country in 2008, played as a true freshman at Tennessee in 2009, then sat out in 2010 after transferring to Kansas State. Brown carried the ball three times at Kansas State in 2011 before quitting the team and declaring for the draft.

The Eagles took a chance on him after extensive research, but they knew he needed time to develop. That development will continue Sunday against the Washington Redskins, when Brown is expected to split carries with McCoy. It's McCoy's first game back from a concussion, so the Eagles will restrict his use. But they also want to keep playing Brown to give him more experience.

"I just think with the games, you need that experience," Brown said. "The games are so much different than practice, especially with the way we practice. Everything's structured and organized. Games are full-speed all the time, with full pads. Practice is getting everything down mentally."

Williams said part of that is making good habits instinctual. Brown has not made a habit of securing the football, even though offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said the Eagles have emphasized ball security "to the point of ridiculousness."

"He knows how to hold a ball; we teach him how to hold the ball," Williams said. "But in the game, that dissipates because it's not instinctively part of what he does."

Yet Williams and Mornhinweg both disputed the suggestion that fumbling has clouded Brown's head. In fact, Williams said, the fumbling does not noticeably bother Brown.

"It's how I am as a person; I don't get down on things," Brown said. "I've gone through a lot in my life. It can be fixed."

Some coaches bench a player with a fumbling problem, but coach Andy Reid hasn't reached that point. Reid suggested that Brown must play to gain experience. Williams said a friend of Brown's from Kansas said Brown "didn't get hit this much in high school. . . . Now, all the sudden, he's getting hit by bigger people, faster people, stronger people," Williams said. "That's an adjustment process."

The fumbling is the glaring weakness to his game. There's also a tendency to bounce a run outside prematurely, which Williams said is the by-product of Brown's achieving so much success with that strategy his first two starts.

But those are the blemishes on an otherwise attractive scouting report. McCoy has gushed about Brown, at one point comparing the rookie's running style to Bo Jackson's, and this week noting that McCoy can ease his way back into games because of Brown's presence.

Williams said Brown could learn "a thousand things" one week, only to find 1,000 more points to learn the next week. Asked if Brown is the most raw running back he has coached in 18 years with the Eagles, Williams said yes.

"McCoy was the same age," Williams said, "but he played two seasons in college."

The Eagles remain high on Brown, and Williams suggested that Brown's potential is even greater than anticipated.

"When he gets in that weight room for a whole year and gets on a training program for a whole year and watches tape, studying for a whole year," Williams said, "he has the chance to be really good."

Extra points. Fullback Stanley Havili has been declared out with a hamstring injury. Running back Chris Polk, who was expected to help replace Havili, is doubtful with a toe injury. Emil Igwenagu is expected to start at fullback, and recently signed tight end Evan Moore will replace Clay Harbor as Brent Celek's backup. . . . Michael Vick remains the No. 3 quarterback and will likely be inactive for Sunday's game.

Redskins at Eagles

Sunday at 1 p.m.

TV/Radio: Fox29, WIP-FM 94.1

Line: Redskins by 61/2