Wide receiver John Brown catches his second touchdown pass of the night.
ATLANTA – A difficult training camp for John "Smoke" Brown got harder last week when a family member suddenly died, sending the wide receiver back home to Florida after only one day of practice.
Having missed much of camp with a quadriceps injury – he still is not 100 percent healthy – Brown needed to get on the field Saturday night in the Cardinals’ dress rehearsal against the Falcons at brand-new Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
“It’s been difficult but it’s stuff I’ve handled many times in my life so I know how to handle the situation,” said Brown, after his only two targets of the evening resulted in a 28- and 21-yard touchdown passes. “It
makes me more comfortable to be able to be here with my teammates.”
The 28-yarder was from starter Carson Palmer, a perfect drop in the basket that Brown caught in stride, eliciting huge celebration from his teammates. The 21-yarder was a tougher over-the-shoulder pass in coverage, a free play after quarterback Drew Stanton had used his cadence to draw the Falcons offside.
Brown was particularly encouraged with that catch, since it was something he and the coaches have been working on in practice.
“He went through a lot,” Palmer said. “You feel a lot of different emotions for him. It’s really good to see him back.”
Brown said he was just happy to get into the game and get a couple of targets, showing little emotion that he happened to score.
“They just happened to be a couple of catches,” Brown said, adding “the guys were way more happier than I was.”
Brown said he believes there is time to get all the way healthy for the regular-season, but he will be ready regardless.
“He’s getting close,” Stanton said. “Smoke at 75 or 80 percent is better than most.”
CHRIS JOHNSON’S TOUGH GAME
Veteran running back Chris Johnson fumbled twice in the first quarter and dropped a pass, a difficult
start for a player who still could be in a battle for a roster spot.
“He bounced back,” coach Bruce Arians said. “We know what Chris is.”
But asked if Johnson’s spot on the roster was secure, Arians said “no one’s is. We still have another game. We’ll wait and see.”
Johnson ended up taking a hard hit on his final carry, requiring stiches in his lip. Johnson finished with 31 yards on six carries.
“I think my helmet came down, which is why I needed the five stiches,” Johnson said. “For the most part, I feel like I got my legs back and I’m in football shape. I feel like I had a nice burst.”
PIERRE IN CONCUSSION PROTOCOL
Defensive tackle Olsen Pierre is in the concussion protocol after suffering a blow to the head on the opening kickoff. He did not return to the game.
Backup tackle Ulrick John also left the game after he was kicked in the ankle, and Arians said his status is to be determined.
Images from the fourth preseason game on Saturday night