GLENDALE (AP) – Not long ago, John Brown was raving about how good he felt, how draining a cyst in his back had been the answer to health problems that dogged him throughout last season.
Well, Brown’s having troubles again and his health issues are at the heart of the Arizona Cardinals’ receiving woes.
A critical part of the Arizona offense, he practiced some last week despite a lingering quadriceps injury. He said that he’s nowhere near full strength and doesn’t want to play until he is.
“I’m not just about to run there hurting myself just because I’ve got to be out there,” Brown said. “I understand the situation that’s going on with the receivers and all that, but I’ll just come back when I’m ready.”
Brown was diagnosed last season with sickle cell trait, a condition that affects his recovery from injuries.
“I can’t rush it,” he said. “My body’s different than others. They expect me to come back fast but you know I can’t.”
Quarterback Carson Palmer said that the important thing is for Brown, whose speed makes him Arizona’s main downfield threat when he’s healthy, to be ready for the Sept. 10 opener at Detroit.
“I don’t know the specifics of the sickle cell. I don’t know how that works,” Palmer said. “I know John and I know how hard he works. I’ve seen him. He wants to be out there. He’s doing everything he can. But at the same time we’ve got a ways to go before we play our first game. He’s such a big part of this offense. We want him in Detroit, we need him in Detroit.”
The downcast Brown didn’t sound optimistic when asked if he’d be ready for the opener.
“It’s unknown,” he said. “If I can’t produce in the preseason, what can I do in the regular season? So I’m just taking it how it comes, taking it one day at a time.”
Coach Bruce Arians was asked if he could be patient while Brown recovers.
“I don’t have any choice. If he can’t run, he can’t play,” the coach said. “Now if he can’t run long enough, we’ve got to replace him. ... Hopefully it’s not two months to recover, when the muscle heals he’ll be ready, but it does affect differently. Some guys are slow healers, some guys are fast healers.”
Arians said the team will probably keep six wide receivers. Whether all six are currently in camp “remains to be seen,” he said. The Cardinals, he meant, might sign someone new instead.