Wide receiver John Brown hauls in a 30-yard touchdown catch during Sunday night's 19-13 loss to the Bengals.
After a training camp and preseason of nearly non-stop praise, John Brown almost had a bad day Sunday. Almost.
The promising rookie wide receiver started slowly against the Bengals before again showing his considerable talent, hauling in a 30-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter for his first career score. Brown had just a seven-yard reception on three targets in the first half, but finished with a team-high four catches for 56 yards in the 19-13 loss.
"It wasn't a good night for me, but it was a great catch," Brown said. "(Coach Bruce Arians) told me, 'Now you can sleep
Brown ran a go route to the left side of the end zone and sprawled out to haul in the touchdown pass from quarterback Drew Stanton on a ball which initially looked overthrown.
"I saw the defensive back playing up and the safety on the other side of the field," Brown said. "I knew for sure it was coming to me. When I looked up I saw the ball, and I knew I had to get it."
Brown's mistakes came early -- most notably when he mistimed a jump and dropped a first-down catch from Palmer in the first quarter -- but his presence with the first team was a testament to his eye-opening play in the months since he was chosen in the draft's third round.
Brown consistently lined up as the third wide receiver with the starters, alongside established wideouts Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd, but he knows he must play better to stay there.
"Every time I make a mistake I learn from it," Brown said. "I'm just glad it happened. Next time you'll see us and it won't happen again."
RUN DEFENSE REMAINS STOUT WITHOUT DOCKETT
The Cardinals played their first game without Pro Bowl defensive tackle Darnell Dockett, who will miss the season with a torn ACL. The first-team defense bottled up the Bengals running game in the first half, allowing 41 yards on 15 carries for a 2.7-yard average.
Cincinnati starter Giovani Bernard had 10 carries for only 17 yards. The Cardinals led the NFL in rush defense a year ago, and even though some of the pieces have changed, the output was similarly impressive on Sunday.
"Any team we face this year, because we finished first, they're going to try to test what we're really good at," defensive end Frostee Rucker said. "We held up stout. Obviously there's always room for improvement, but we felt good about it."
Rucker started in Dockett's place and finished with two tackles. He also hassled quarterback Andy Dalton into a pair of incompletions with his pass rush.
"The only thing I can do is be myself," Rucker said. "I know I can play football. If you play well or don't, (critics) will still have doubts, but I've just got to play consistently."
The Cardinals forced an intentional grounding penalty on Dalton when linebacker Kenny Demens blitzed untouched into the backfield, but didn't record a sack.
"I have no qualms about what we are going to be able to do against the run," Arians said. "It's being able to rush the passer that concerns me."
ELLINGTON GETS THE ROCK
Andre Ellington will be a major part of the offense when the regular season begins, but carried the ball only four times combined in the first two preseason games to avoid wear and tear on his frame.
Ellington upped his workload against the Bengals, finishing with nine carries for 46 yards, a 5.1-yard average. He highlighted the effort with a 24-yard burst in the second quarter, hitting the edge quickly before cutting back up the middle.
"The one run, you see the explosion," quarterback Carson Palmer said. "It's a guy almost playing at a different speed than everyone else. His vision, his cut. Once he puts his foot in the ground and goes. He's special and he showed that on one simple run."
Left tackle Jared Veldheer has watched Ellington in practice but this was his first taste of seeing him flummox defenders in a game.
"There's like a turbocharged engine in there," Veldheer said.
KICKER DUEL CONTINUES
Jay Feely played the first half of the game and Chandler Catanzaro the second as they continue to battle for the kicker spot. Feely was 1-of-2 on field goals, missing a 48-yarder wide right and hitting one from 24 yards. Catanzaro made his only attempt of the game, from 23 yards out, as well as an extra point.
"We missed a field goal, and other than that, the kickoffs were adequate," Arians said. "Chandler's were really solid."
FOUR DO NOT DRESS
The four players who didn't dress for the Cardinals were safety Tyrann Mathieu (knee), defensive tackle Alameda Ta'amu (knee), guard Jonathan Cooper (toe) and linebacker Kevin Minter (pectoral).
Linebacker Lorenzo Alexander left the game in the second quarter with a knee injury but returned in the second half.