GLENDALE, Ariz. — If you look at the Arizona Cardinals’ roster you’ll find two receivers with the last name “Brown.” Incidentally, their first names also begin with the letter J.
But while John Brown, a third-round pick out of Pittsburg State is the talk of training camp, it is actually Jaron Brown who has experienced some success in an NFL game.
The latter Brown appeared in all 16 games for the Cardinals last season, catching 11 passes for 140 yards and one touchdown.
Modest numbers, yes, but the 6-foot-2 wideout from Clemson who ran a 4.43 40-yard dash at his pro day before going undrafted did enough to earn a spot in this year’s training camp.
“It was a great experience, coming in and making the team,” Brown said of 2013. “Got the chance to play a little bit, mainly on special teams. It was a good experience.”
Unfortunately for Brown, that experience will only get him so far.
Brown is one of 10 receivers currently in Cardinals camp, and while it’s a given Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Ted Ginn, Jr. and John Brown will make the team, nothing is guaranteed for the rest of the group.
“It’s a competition all the time, and that’s something I’m ready to face,” Brown, who finished his collegiate career with 87 receptions for 1,186 yards and eight touchdowns, said. “Pretty much competition throughout my whole life, so it’s good.”
The initial depth chart ahead of Saturday’s preseason opener with the Houston Texans was a step in the right direction for Brown, as he is listed with the second team behind Michael Floyd. Of course, the team you see now will most certainly be different than the one that lines up in the regular season opener against the San Diego Chargers, meaning there is still plenty of work to do.
But for now, he’s doing everything he needs to do to earn a spot.
“J.B. has picked up where he left off last year,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. “He missed most of the spring with that hamstring; he was having a great OTAs until he pulled the hamstring. But he’s one of those guys that he’s fast, he’s smart and he’s physical. So he can play on special teams. He made his niche on (special) teams. Very few wide receivers will get in the middle of kickoff coverage and fly in there and throw your face in the fan, and he’s one of them. That’s one of the things that separates those guys to make the roster.
“And he’s been catching deep balls every day. Every day, ‘Whoops, there goes J.B. again deep,’ and that’s a good thing.”
It’s true. Rare is the practice session where Brown doesn’t make a nice catch, and while his grabs don’t generate nearly the same amount of buzz as his teammate with the same last name, his play has gotten him some positive attention from the coaches.
A lot of his improvement may be due to the simple fact that it’s his second year in the league. Like most players, Brown said he has a better understanding of the playbook as well as how to properly run his routes and read the defense.
Not that he doesn’t still have plenty to work on.
“Personally, probably get better with my blocking, that was piss poor,” he said. “Get better at my blocking and better with my route running. Simple things with that, catching and everything. Those things I’m trying to work on every day.”
John Brown may be earning the headlines, but he’s not the only player of that name making plays in Cardinals camp. And unlike the rookie, Jaron Brown has already experienced success in the NFL.
Now he’s looking to earn a chance for more.