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Evan Brown Hoping To Gain Spot On Cardinals O-Line

Handful of players competing for reps at left guard

Evan Brown works on his technique at a recent OTA.
Evan Brown works on his technique at a recent OTA.

First impressions are everything, and this time of year, without pads and essentially no contact, it can be challenging for an offensive lineman to stand out.

The weight room has no such restrictions, and there, among his peers, Evan Brown has shined.

"Evan has taken my crown, it's annoying," Cardinals center Hjalte Froholdt said. "He's super strong, it's pissing me off, honestly. I hope he sees it."

When told what Froholdt said, the Cardinals' new weightlifting king laughed and gave a simple "I don't know about that, man," as he acknowledged his teammates' efforts in the weight room.

One of the reasons why Froholdt has been pumped – pun intended – to see the weight room culture grow is because it's translating to the guys "moving around really well on the field."

Brown is hoping the weightlifting gains could lead to starting snaps come Week 1 in Buffalo. A versatile offensive lineman that coach Jonathan Gannon described as a "two-position guy," Brown was signed in the second wave of free agency. He spent the 2023 season playing for the rival Seahawks.

"Inner division, sure, but nothing different for me," Brown said.

Images from Week 2 of the Arizona Cardinals 2024 offseason training activities

What has been different for the six-year veteran going is the battle to earn reps at the left guard spot. General manager Monti Ossenfort heavily emphasized the trenches throughout the offseason.

The Cardinals re-signed Elijah Wilkinson, Carter O'Donnell, and Trystan Colon, each started games at left guard last season. They brought back guard Keith Ismael and drafted Isaiah Adams in the third round. Gannon also said that guard Jon Gaines II, recovering from a serious knee injury, will be back "in some capacity" for training camp.

Brown has spent majority of his career as a center but has some experience at right guard. Throughout OTAs, he's been in the mix for the left guard position that appears to be up for grabs.

"I've always been under the assumption that wherever the team needs me, I'm willing to play," Brown said. "I always want to have competition. We go out there, talk as guys, help each other out, and compete for the job. When it comes down to it, competition is going to put the best five out there. That's all we can ask for."

With the aforementioned re-signings, the Cardinals return four of their five starters on the offensive line. D.J. Humphries is the one exception, although second-year tackle Paris Johnson Jr. hopes to replace his mentor.

That's not to say there won't be changes on the line. Right tackle Jonah Williams will be a new face in the huddle, and potentially Brown joins him with the first unit.

Gannon noted that nothing has been set in stone just yet.

"Is there a first group that goes out there right now? There is," Gannon said. "They're all competing and they're all working on their game."

A few weeks into OTAs, Brown has lined up alongside Johnson on the left side of the line. The 6-foot-6 tackle described his 6-foot-3 linemate as a "block" that's "built like SpongeBob."

Brown's talent fits in a lot better on the Cardinals offensive line than the Bikini Bottom.

"He plays smart and he's actually super athletic," Johnson said. "He can move and that's my joke, like, 'You're a frickin' athlete.' He's a real athlete. He's played six years in the league, and I think that allows him to play faster. I like being able to practice next to him."

The goal Brown has set out for himself is to continue familiarizing himself with the playbook so that his "assignments aren't a thought anymore and that it's no longer about what you got to do. It's how am I going to get my job done."

But once the pads go on, that's when the season really begins and first impressions can turn to lasting impressions.

"For myself, you get out of OTAs with that and into training camp, that's the real football, in my opinion," Brown said. "I think for us as a team, it's a mundane cliché statement, but it's about getting one percent better every day. You're going out to these practices and you're looking to improve a small part of your game each day. You're going to get better as a player and the team is going to get better when we do that."

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