No John Brown hurts the Arizona Cardinals ‘a bunch’

Dec 1, 2016, 6:30 PM | Updated: Dec 2, 2016, 11:19 am
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver John Brown (12) escapes the tackle of Los Angeles Rams cornerback E...

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver John Brown (12) escapes the tackle of Los Angeles Rams cornerback E.J. Gaines (33) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

TEMPE, Ariz. – Asked how the absence of wide receiver John Brown has affected the Arizona Cardinals offense, head coach Bruce Arians doesn’t waste words.

“You take 1,000 yards out and about 50 explosive plays, it hurts a bunch,” he said.

Brown has played in 10 of the Cardinals’ 11 games, including four starts, but he’s probably been healthy for only a handful of those appearances.

His season got off to a slow start—eight catches for 92 yards in the first three games—due to a concussion he suffered early in training camp, robbing him of much-needed repetitions with the first-team offense.

Now, over the last two months, Brown has dealt with hamstring trouble which sidelined him in Week 7 against Seattle and forced him out of last week’s game in Atlanta.

Brown carries the sickle-cell trait, something that can cause muscle breakdown when doing intense exercise, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A blood test in mid-October revealed the diagnosis.

Since then, Brown and the Cardinals have been working diligently to find the right treatment — a combination of rest, oxygen and hydration — to limit, and ultimately eliminate, the pain to allow Brown to once again be full-go.

All parties thought the issue had been corrected, but then Brown suffered a setback against the Falcons.

“We saw every specialist that we can see and he was fine,” Arians said this week, “and then it just comes back.”

Brown did not practice on Wednesday, and he was listed as a limited participant on Thursday, leaving his status as uncertain for this week’s matchup with Washington.

Brown was not been seen in the locker room during player availability either day.

“It obviously hurts not having him,” said quarterback Carson Palmer, who has grown close to Brown in the past three years. “He’s been in and out of the lineup and made some really nice plays, and then obviously we lost him somewhere there in the second quarter. It’s definitely been a loss, big loss in production and some of the stuff we do. Everything looks good going forward it sounds like, with all the tests and all the stuff he’s got going. Hopefully they can get it under control.”

A lot was expected from Brown this season.

A year after setting career-highs in catches (65), yards (1,003) and touchdowns (7), Brown is trending toward career-lows in all three categories with 31 catches, 399 yards and one touchdown.

Brown is the Cardinals’ big-play threat, something that’s obviously been missing from the team’s offense in 2016.

“I wouldn’t just say John Brown by himself. J.J. (Nelson) has been battling injuries all year. Mike’s (Floyd) been dealing with a hamstring for the last few weeks. Those are our big-play guys,” wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said Thursday. “Those are our deep-shot chunk guys who have made plays down the field over the last few years, and them not being at top-strength to be able to do some of the things that they’re capable of doing has been tough for us.”

Injuries and ineffectiveness has weakened what was once thought of as a major strength for the Cardinals this season, the wide receiver position.

Offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin called Brown’s situation “unique.”

Sure the Cardinals want their reliable playmaker on the field, but “sometimes things in life are bigger than football and that’s one of those situations he’s going through right now,” Goodwin said. “So, just have to listen to the doctors. He has to keep his head down and keep grinding and keep trying to get better and see what he’s able to do moving forward.”

And by all accounts, that’s exactly what Brown is doing, and has done for the better part of eight weeks, if not longer.

“It’s been a tough year for John. He had a really severe concussion the second week of training camp, maybe the first week of training camp. Getting diagnosed with a disease that you don’t know anything about and you’ve never heard of, and it’s a scary disease to have; it’s been a difficult year. He’s handled it flawlessly. He’s always asking should I try this, should I try that, talking to doctors, talking to (head athletic trainer) Tom Reed and his group. It’s been a tough year, away from football,” Palmer said.

“Trying to figure out what his workload is in the week and what his workload is on Sundays, how to stop what happened last Sunday from happening again. He’s in the learning process trying to figure it out. You can just pray for him and be there for him and do whatever you can for him.”

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No John Brown hurts the Arizona Cardinals ‘a bunch’