TEMPE, Ariz. — Jaron Brown simply showed up at the team facility every day in the off-season and did what trainers told him. And less than a year removed from major knee surgery, the Arizona Cardinals wide receiver is putting up big numbers.
"I'm not really surprised, just because of the amount of work I put in," Brown said after Wednesday's practice. "I was here every day, like literally, the trainers got tired of seeing me. I never took a day for granted."
Brown figured to be an important part of the Cardinals offence this season, though he missed nine games in 2016 due to a torn ACL. He rose to the top of the depth chart at one receiver spot, opposite star Larry Fitzgerald, during training camp this year and has played 158 snaps on offence the past two games against Dallas and San Francisco.
Brown added to his playing time with work on special teams. He said he isn't surprised at how much he has played.
"I never really get into just counting them (snaps), I just try to wake up the next morning and get out of bed and get in the cold tub," Brown said. "Oh yeah, I definitely feel it."
Head coach Bruce Arians said he hopes he doesn't need Brown that much in a game again. With overtime and the plays that resulted in penalties, Arians said Brown's snap count for the San Francisco game was more like 104.
Two of the three highest yardage totals Brown has produced in a single game have come this season, including his first career 100-yard game last Sunday against the 49ers when he caught eight passes — also a career high — for 105 yards.
Since going undrafted out of Clemson in 2013, Brown has gone from a special teams standout to the Cardinals' No. 2 receiver. He recalled the feeling of disappointment at not being chosen in the draft.
"I had to pretty much do what I had to do. Arizona gave me an opportunity and I just wanted to make the most of it," Brown said.
"A 6-2 guy that runs a 4.35 and plays his tail off on special teams, that gets your attention when you're on the free agent board," Arians said of the decision to sign Brown. "You say, 'Go give him some more money.' And then he came here and he proved that he could do that job and he just got better and better as a receiver."
Quarterback Carson Palmer couldn't have imagined that Brown would be so effective and at full speed so soon. Brown was lost for the season when he was injured in Week 7.
"He's looked phenomenal, but it's nobody but Jaron. He's had a great team of help, but when a guy comes back that strong and that fast, you just know how hard Jaron worked to get to where he is," Palmer said. "He's a couple of inches away from having even bigger games."
NOTES: DT Robert Nkemdiche (calf) and OT D.J. Humphries (knee) did some work on a side field but did not take part in Wednesday's practice. OG Alex Boone practiced on a limited basis after missing last week's game with a pectoral injury, and if all goes well could return to the starting lineup Sunday at Philadelphia. ... Wide receivers John Brown and J.J. Nelson were limited in Wednesday's practice, Brown with a quadriceps injury and Nelson dealing with a hamstring problem.
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