NFL seasons have ebbs and flows, especially for rookies.

Fifth-round pick Blair Brown was a healthy inactive to open the season. He spent two games on the bench before making his debut against the Baltimore Ravens in London.

He played 10 snaps on defense against the Ravens but was otherwise regulated to special teams work until Week 12.

Weak-side linebacker Telvin Smith suffered a concussion in the first half against the Arizona Cardinals and Brown was asked to play in place of the veteran in base formations.

Smith wasn't cleared in time for the Week 13 matchup against the Indianapolis Colts, which meant Brown would need to make his first NFL start.

Throughout the week leading up to the 30-10 win over the Colts, coaches expressed confidence in the rookie.

Brown was able to reaffirm the staff's confidence Sunday.

While he only played roughly 16 percent of the total defensive snaps, Brown made each rep count.

He was effective against the run, attacking gaps to slow down Colts running back Frank Gore. He also showed his ability to blitz off the edge, meeting middle linebacker Paul Posluszny at Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett for a shared sack.

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The performance wasn't without its flaws, as Brown was partially responsible for a 25-yard run by running back Marlon Mack.

The rookie hesitated in his gap as Mack made his way up the middle and cut into another opening. Brown then ran into Posluszny as he attempted to catch up to the running back.

It was a rare miss for Brown, who had a strong game overall. He can now build off this performance, making him an asset if Smith needs to miss more time moving forward.

Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.