Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald takes on Browns cornerback Joe Haden in 2011.
The Cardinals likely will see Browns Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden Sunday, with Haden coming back from a concussion. The game after that – following the bye – the Cards will see Pro Bowl cornerback Richard Sherman in Seattle.
To this, Bruce Arians is respectful but firm – those high-brow cornerbacks don't change what the Cardinals will do.
"We don't go away from corners," Arians said. "If the read takes you there, you throw it there and you win one-on-one. I don't
care if it's Deion Sanders or whoever it is. If that's where the read shows where you're supposed to throw it, you throw it there. Joe is a good player. You have to respect him. When you throw it, you better know where you're throwing it."
One of the advantages the Cardinals have against the Browns is their deep well of potential receivers. Assuming John Brown plays – and he's likely a game-day decision again this week with his troubled hamstring – the defense must watch him and Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd on any given play.
That doesn't include Andre Ellington split from the backfield or tight end Jermaine Gresham, who had a solid game receiving against the Ravens.
"If we can protect, I don't care what the secondary is on the other side," offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said. "As long as we execute, we should be fine."
It doesn't hurt that the running game – specifically, the red-hot Chris Johnson -- also puts further stress on the defense.
"What are you going to do? Are you going to drop eight in the box, or are you going with two high safeties?" Goodwin said. "It's a win-win for us."
JOHN BROWN WILL WAIT AND SEE ON STATUS
For a second straight week, the John Brown watch is on.
The wide receiver sat out practice for a second straight day Thursday because of a bad hamstring. Arians said Wednesday "we're
trying to get him well instead of aggravating him." If Brown is able to practice some Friday, however, he will likely want to give playing a chance.
"I'm taking it one day at a time, getting the body right," Brown said. "It'll be the same as last week. (Friday) I'll practice and see how I feel."
Also sitting out Thursday were cornerback Jerraud Powers (hamstring), linebacker Alex Okafor (calf), tight end Darren Fells (shoulder) and wide receiver Brittan Golden (groin). Center Lyle Sendlein (ankle) and defensive tackle Frostee Rucker (quadriceps) returned to practice on a limited basis. Linebacker Dwight Freeney (finger) remained limited, but cornerback Justin Bethel (foot) and safety Deone Bucannon (elbow) were upgraded to full practice.
For the Browns, quarterback Josh McCown (ribs/shoulder) was upgraded to limited work and he is expected to start Sunday. Tight end Rob Housler (hamstring), wide receiver Andre Hawkins (concussion), linebacker Paul Kruger (illness) and defensive back Jordan Poyer (shoulder) sat out. Defensive back Tashaun Gipson (ankle) and linebacker Craig Robertson (ankle) were limited.
SHIPLEY MAKES AN IMPACT AT TIGHT END
The Cardinals were down a tight end Monday – and likely again this Sunday – with Fells' injury, but turned to reserve offensive lineman A.Q. Shipley as a third tight end behind Jermaine Gresham and Troy Niklas. It worked out pretty well.
"It's fun," Goodwin said with a smile. "We ran a draw play, he killed (guard Jonathan Cooper) Coop's guy and then his guy. The second play of the game, he was playing a wing tight end position, and he killed (linebacker Chris) Canty. Killed him. He got a blast out of it. He came to the sidelines saying, 'Dude, you've got to see what I did to this guy.' He was right. He did great. He's like a big bowling ball."
Shipley played seven offensive snaps all told, including a couple at fullback (which was not the first time this season.)
"I enjoy playing it," the 6-foot-1, 307-pound Shipley said. "It's easy, I get a running start, I get to run downhill and hit somebody. It's a lot of fun."
Shipley said he's pushing for a chance to go out for a pass but "I don't think they are too enthused about it so far."
Shipley was asked if he'd rather get a pass as a tight end or a carry as a fullback.
"Pass. I'm an athlete," he said. "Come on now. I'm a skill guy."