Cardinals wide receiver John Brown is on track to play on Sunday against the Panthers.
Wide receiver John Brown practiced for the first time on Wednesday after being diagnosed with sickle cell trait, and coach Bruce Arians said everything went well.
The Cardinals' third-year wideout will increase his workload on Thursday, and the expectation is a return to the field this weekend against the Panthers. Brown complained of sore hamstrings after the Week 6 win over the Jets, and after an MRI showed no issue in his legs, a blood test found the sickle cell trait.
Now that the problem has been identified, the team trainers have focused on keeping Brown hydrated and giving him oxygen after practice to treat the symptoms.
"I think he feels really comfortable," Arians said. "That's the main thing. The exercise that he's been doing, he's not having any problems with. We'll go full speed tomorrow, up his reps and everything. Don't really anticipate any problems."
The Cardinals are juggling pieces at wideout. Brown looks on track to return, but Michael Floyd didn't practice Wednesday with a hamstring injury, and Arians said "there's a possibility" one of them misses the game.
It could mean more time for J.J. Nelson, who has played well since he progressed past his own early-season injuries. Nelson broke his thumb and suffered a groin injury in training camp and didn't play much in the first five games. He had four touches for 39 yards against the Jets – including a pair of end-arounds for 23 yards – and three catches for 84 yards against the Seahawks.
"It was hard for me to catch the ball (in training camp)," Nelson said. "I was dropping balls and not making the plays I was capable of making. Now that my thumb is getting back right and my body's feeling good, I feel like I can play at a high level."
Brittan Golden could also be in the mix for a more significant role if needed.
"We've got a lot of hungry guys waiting for an opportunity," quarterback Carson Palmer said. "If Mike can go, great. If 'Smoke' (Brown) can go, great. If they can't, we've got some adjustments to make but we have guys who are fired up to play."
FROM UPS TO THE NFL
The Cardinals added rookie wide receiver Chris Hubert to the active roster on Wednesday following the season-ending torn ACL to Jaron Brown. Hubert was on the practice squad for a week to begin the year but was released on Sept. 13. He continued to work out, but after no nibbles from the NFL, decided to get a job at UPS.
"I worked there for seven days before I got the call to come back," Hubert said.
Hubert told his UPS boss "I got to go. I may be back, but hopefully I won't."
"It's just crazy," he added. "I'm learning every day how the business goes. At any time your number can be called. You've just got to be ready. It's a great feeling, really."
If Hubert plays in his first NFL game on Sunday, it will be in his home state of North Carolina. He's expecting family and friends to make their way to the game, although reporters intercepted him after practice before he could tell anyone the good news.
"I was about to get on my phone right now," Hubert said.
VELDHEER, PETERSON MISS PRACTICE
Arians said the Cardinals "basically played two games in one night the other night" in the slugfest with the Seahawks, so Wednesday's practice was light, and six players sat out.
One of the more significant injuries was a fractured finger suffered by left tackle Jared Veldheer, who was wearing a large cast on his right hand and arm as he watched practice.
Arians was amused by its size – "he's got an eight-foot cast for his finger" – but said it will be replaced by a paddle for the Panthers game.
"Guys have worn them all the time," Arians said. "Just can't grab. You don't have to worry about getting a holding penalty with that hand."
Cornerback Patrick Peterson (ribs) didn't practice but Arians said he should be fine. Tight end Darren Fells (ankle), defensive tackle Ed Stinson (toe) and linebacker Alex Okafor (calf) didn't practice, with Okafor already ruled out. Cornerback Justin Bethel (foot), cornerback Marcus Cooper (foot), guard Mike Iupati (ankle), linebacker Gabe Martin (knee) and Palmer (hamstring) were limited.
For the Panthers, tackle Michael Oher (concussion) didn't practice, while cornerback James Bradberry (foot) and defensive tackle Vernon Butler (ankle) were limited.
BERCOVICI GETS A LOOK
Ex-Arizona State quarterback Michael Bercovici was one of the players the Cardinals tried out this week. Arians said the team needed a quarterback to throw to the wideouts they were evaluating, and they chose Bercovici because he showed some flashes with the Chargers in the preseason.
"We're always looking for the next guy," Arians said. "We had a couple receivers in and we needed a quarterback to throw, and I really wanted to see him too."
Images of Cardinals cheerleaders during the Week 7 home game against the Seahawks