Wide receiver John Brown (12) sits on the bench with receiver J.J. Nelson (left) and running backs Chris Johnson (23) and Andre Ellington (38) in Seattle last weekend.
He's going to play Sunday. John "Smokey" Brown is confident in that much.
But the wide receiver – who once was on pace for 1,300 yards this season but doesn't have a catch since Oct. 26 against Baltimore -- is frustrated with the hamstring injury that is making him less than he could be.
"I don't feel like the same Smoke right now," Brown said Friday. "It's frustrating just to sit out of practice, see my team working hard. I want to be with those guys."
Brown was limited in his work Friday for a second straight day. He will officially be a game-day decision for the Cardinals, as
he's been since originally getting hurt Oct. 11 in Detroit. He's needed, especially since fellow wide receiver Michael Floyd hurt his hamstring in Seattle last week and didn't practice at all during the week.
Floyd too will be a game-day decision, coach Bruce Arians said, but it seems more likely Brown would play before Floyd.
"He's more than capable," Arians said of Brown. "I would hope he'd be able to have a big game in this one."
Brown played 59 snaps in Seattle, including every one on the final two touchdown drives. But he was targeted only three times, and did not have a reception. Arians said Brown's catch-less day had nothing to do with the hamstring and everything to do with Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald having big days.
"It didn't come his way," Arians said.
Brown had four catches for 65 yards and a touchdown against the Ravens. Since then, he was active but did not play in Cleveland to protect his hamstring. Then came the bye week, and Brown said he was OK until the hamstring grabbed in practice again last week.
"I can't play like I want to play," he said.
Going catchless in Seattle doesn't bother him. Being less than himself does, especially when Brown doesn't really have any injury history dating back to high school.
"I use my speed, and for me not be able to run by guys and open things up even more for Larry Fitzgerald, it's a frustrating thing," Brown said. "The Seattle game, it was open, but it wasn't open like it's usually open by using my speed."
Asked if Brown was capable of doing such things against the Bengals, Arians said "we haven't let him practice hard to find out."
"You'll find out when the first one goes past 20 yards," Arians said. "His short routes have all been fine. It's whether he trusts to open up and let it go."
In six of the nine games the Cardinals have played, either Floyd or Brown have had only one or zero catches. Jaron Brown is in line to get significant time if Floyd can't go, and J.J. Nelson could be used as the deep threat if John Brown is hobbled at all.
"I don't think anybody else in the league has the depth that we have in our corps," Fitzgerald said. "Honestly, all seven of our guys can line up and play, not just be another body but go out and contribute."
IUPATI TO START, COOPER DOUBTFUL
Right guard Jonathan Cooper (knee), like Floyd, missed practice again. He is listed as doubtful. But right guard Mike Iupati (neck), who was limited and is officially questionable, will start, Arians said. That's good news after Iupati's scary double-
stinger moment in Seattle. Ted Larsen or Earl Watford will start in Cooper's place; Arians declined to say who.
Defensive tackle Cory Redding (ankle) is out. Linebacker Markus Golden (ankle) is also officially questionable.
Even though Floyd has not practiced, Arians would not rule him out for the game.
"I'll give him the benefit of the doubt," Arians said. "He's been playing pretty well. He's not a rookie anymore. … I know he knows what he's doing. If he can run, we can use him."
The Bengals might not have top cornerback Pacman Jones (ankle), who is doubtful, as is defensive end Michael Johnson (back) and defensive tackle Pat Sims (knee).
RUCKER, GRESHAM FACE FORMER TEAM
Quarterback Carson Palmer isn't the only Cardinal who is an ex-Bengal. Defensive tackle Frostee Rucker played there until 2011, and tight end Jermaine Gresham just left as a free agent following last season.
"When I played in Cincinnati, I was sometimes on the field, sometimes not even dressing," Rucker said. "If I was on the field, I was playing maybe 15 snaps on defense at times and special teams. I was doing whatever I could to help the team. Now I get more opportunity."
Rucker said he spent "six good years" in Cincinnati and this game was circled for him. Gresham, who caught his first touchdown as a Cardinal last week, was trying to downplay it.
"I don't want to put too much into it," he said.
Gresham said Bengals coach Marvin Lewis "taught me how to be a pro." Rucker said the Bengals, at 8-1, are a good test for the Cardinals.
"They will come in very confident and fired up, knowing myself and Carson and Jermaine are on this team," Rucker said. "It'll be a good showdown."
Images of key players for this week's opponent, the Cincinnati Bengals