GLENDALE, Ariz. — Sure he looked good in OTAs, minicamp and the first couple days of training camp, but everyone was wondering how John Brown would fare once the pads were on and he could be hit.
He was just fine, thank you very much.
The star of the Arizona Cardinals’ offseason continued to turn heads Monday at University of Phoenix Stadium, consistently getting open and making plays down the field. One of them, an 82-yard TD reception that saw him beat Justin Bethel’s coverage, was a thing of beauty.
“It’s always the same to me,” Brown said of the change to pads and tackling in practice. “I don’t treat it no different. People say what they want to say, but I treat it the same. You’re going to get hit regardless.”
Brown, who was clocked at 4.34 seconds in the 40 at the NFL Combine, said the pads didn’t slow him down at all. His performance had to be one of the most exciting takeaways from Monday’s practice.
“The one thing, when you get a guy that’s not a first-round pick, that’s from a smaller school, when those guys come in you always wonder is, ‘Is it going to be too big for them?'” Carson Palmer said. “When there’s a crowd, when the pads come on, going against the ones, once everything’s installed and the whole playbook is thrown at him, and the one thing that jumped out at me is nothing’s too big for him.”
The 5-foot-11, 179-pound Brown was the Cardinals’ third round choice out of Pittsburg State. He wasn’t the biggest receiver or the fastest, but the Cardinals saw enough out of him to take him 91st overall.
And so far, he has yet to disappoint.
“He was very impressive and again, he’s one of those guys that if he can continue to build on practices and put them like that, he’ll earn the right to be here,” coach Bruce Arians said.
It’s not uncommon to see excitement over a rookie during training camp. Roughly this time one year ago, there was plenty of buzz surrounding safety Tyrann Mathieu, who went on to be worth every bit of the hype he was receiving. Of course, Mathieu was a former Heisman Trophy candidate who played college ball at LSU, whereas Brown was a special teams standout who didn’t generate national headlines.
Even though he’s getting plenty of attention now, Brown said he’s not concerned with what is being said.
“I don’t feed into all that,” he said. “I’m just worrying about me and helping the team. So you know it’s just when it’s time to show up, I’m just going to show up and see how it goes from there.”
Assuming everything continues on its current path, Brown will eventually have little else to prove during practice. Until he starts making plays in game situations, there will still be an air of uncertainty surrounding him, but that that’s really par for the course.
“He’s looking very impressive,” Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson said. “We’ll have to wait and see what the first preseason game brings — when he’s actually going against live competition instead of the Cardinals.”
That’s pretty much what everyone is waiting for when it comes to Brown. He wouldn’t be the first player to get talked up over the summer only to disappoint in the fall, though right now just about everyone is predicting him to come up big this season.
The only thing left for him is to do it.