In February of 2019, Wake Forest wide receiver Greg Dortch showed up at the NFL Scouting combine, just praying he could show he was worth a place in the NFL. Then he found out his roommate in Indianapolis was Oklahoma star Hollywood Brown.
"I ain't gonna lie, I was kinda hype," Dortch recalled on the "Big Red Rage." "I was like 'Dang, they paired me with Marquise Brown?' Because I didn't know him at the time. You just hear about him on the TV, you see him on the TV. Him and K1. I'm like OK, Hollywood Brown, coming out together. This is basically my competition but now we are roommates. Lemme get to know this guy."
Brown remembered a guy who talked a lot. "He always had that chip on his shoulder," Brown said.
It's interesting that the two have ended up on the same team, and for the Cardinals, have ended up on opposite ends of a larger question the team faces as they head into their second game in Las Vegas on Sunday. Brown, the guy the Cards traded their first-round pick for in April, had only four catches and six targets in the opener. He's the guy who is supposed to be No. 1 on the wide receiver pecking order while DeAndre Hopkins is suspended.
Dortch, meanwhile, is getting playing time mostly because Rondale Moore is hurt. And he ended Week 1 with the most targets (9) and catches (7) on the team – which really isn't how the Cardinals want this to go.
Moore is still injured. (So is Andy Isabella). Dortch will be needed against the Raiders. But there is also a need to have a little more Hollywood in the gameplan.
"We've got to do a better job of getting him the ball, moving him around stuff like that, just making it tough for defenses," quarterback Kyler Murray said. "You watch around the league, guys getting 10-plus balls a game, getting 10-plus targets a game, how do you do that? You've got to design it, scheme it up, move him around. It's fixable. It'll get better."
Brown smiled at the idea he could have 10 targets or more. "However many times I can touch the rock, I am confident in my abilities," he said.
More times with the rock for Brown may make the game result a little less rocky for the Cardinals.
-- Coach Kliff Kingsbury dismissed the idea that playing in Allegiant Stadium for the first time could impact the Cardinals. The team was supposed to open the building for football once upon a time as the preseason opener in 2020, but those games were of course canceled because of Covid.
-- My guess is that the guys who are game-day decisions will be active. That includes safety Jalen Thompson, defensive end J.J. Watt, left guard Justin Pugh, and cornerback Trayvon Mullen. Maybe Mullen won't quite make it, but the other three vets want to get out there. Watt I think is crucial, but Pugh might be moreso; that spot was tough with Sean Harlow struggling last week and the pass rush up the middle clearly affecting Murray.
-- If Mullen does play, he'll have a chance to go against the team that traded him away at the end of the preseason. It was likely Mullen was going to be released otherwise, so he said there aren't really a lot of emotions facing his former team.
"I understand this game, I understand this league being in it four years now and what comes with it," Mullen said. "You have to be prepared and stay ready, stay humble and be patient."
He said there is a "chance" he plays against the Raiders but that he is trying to be patient. If he can't go, I'd expect Jace Whittaker to be a practice-squad callup again.
-- While his former teammates had a lot to say about getting to see Chandler Jones again, the now-Raiders linebacker wasn't saying much about his reunion.
"It's another week, honestly," Jones told Las Vegas reporters. "It'll be fun getting a chance to play against my old team but going into Week 2 hopefully we can just end up in the win column this week.
"It was a little weird going through the scouting report and seeing some of the guys and hearing their names."
-- Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph knows linebacker Isaiah Simmons needs to play better. He expects that this week, although there is another tough cover in tight end Darren Waller. Joseph noted Simmons was "drafted to cover tight ends" and it's crucial he does.
-- There is a third reunion this week: It was the Raiders who traded center Rodney Hudson to the Cardinals before the 2021 season. While having Pugh back would help, the Cardinals also need all the rust off from Hudson, who had an up-and-down opener.
-- It's weird that this is only the 11th meeting between the Cardinals and Raiders in the regular season. They've played a bunch against each other in the preseason.
-- Kicker Matt Prater needs eight points to reach 1,600 for his career.
-- I know a lot of Cardinals fans are making the short trek to Vegas for this game; it'll be interesting to see the crowd makeup on Sunday.
-- The NFL Films crews have begun collecting footage for "Hard Knocks In Season," coming in November. There were three crews out getting shots at practice Friday morning.
-- Kingsbury has a history with Raiders coach Josh McDaniels, who is about three years older between the two. McDaniels was Kingsbury's quarterbacks coach at one point when Kingsbury was playing for the Patriots. Later, when Kingsbury was hurt and basically in a quality control role for the Patriots, McDaniels was working under Bill Belichick on the defensive side of the ball.
"I would want to go out with the (players) and I would try to pay him to do my work," Kingsbury said. "He was like, 'Dude, I have so much work, there's no chance.' "
Kingsbury was asked if he really tried to pay McDaniels to help.
"Oh yeah," Kingsbury said with a smile. "I was like, 23. I was trying to go out."
See you Sunday.