GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Not long ago, John Brown was raving about how good he felt, how draining a cyst in his back had been the answer to health problems that dogged him throughout last season.
Well, Brown's having troubles again and his health issues are at the heart of the Arizona Cardinals' receiving woes.
A critical part of the Arizona offense, he practiced some on Tuesday despite a lingering quadriceps injury. He said afterward that he's nowhere near full strength and doesn't want to play until he is.
''I'm not just about to run there hurting myself just because I've got to be out there,'' Brown said. ''I understand the situation that's going on with the receivers and all that, but I'll just come back when I'm ready.''
Brown was diagnosed last season with sickle cell trait, a condition that affects his recovery from injuries.
''I can't rush it,'' he said. ''My body's different than others. They expect me to come back fast but you know I can't.''
Quarterback Carson Palmer said Wednesday that the important thing is for Brown, whose speed makes him Arizona's main downfield threat when he's healthy, to be ready for the Sept. 10 opener at Detroit.
''I don't know the specifics of the sickle cell. I don't know how that works,'' Palmer said. ''I know John and I know how hard he works. I've seen him. He wants to be out there. He's doing everything he can. But at the same time we've got a ways to go before we play our first game. He's such a big part of this offense. We want him in Detroit, we need him in Detroit.''
The downcast Brown didn't sound optimistic when asked if he'd be ready for the opener.
''It's unknown,'' he said. ''If I can't produce in the preseason, what can I do in the regular season? So I'm just taking it how it comes, taking it one day at a time.''
Coach Bruce Arians was asked if he could be patient while Brown recovers.
''I don't have any choice. If he can't run, he can't play,'' the coach said. ''Now if he can't run long enough, we've got to replace him. ... Hopefully it's not two months to recover, when the muscle heals he'll be ready, but it does affect differently. Some guys are slow healers, some guys are fast healers.''
On Monday, Arians called out his receivers - with the exception of Larry Fitzgerald and Jaron Brown - for a ''lethargic'' practice, dropping passes and messing up assignments.
That led to John Brown and rookie Chad Williams returning to practice the next day.
Fitzgerald had been due a veteran's day off from Tuesday's workout but he practiced, too.
''I think he wanted to help lead his group,'' Arians said. ''You can't say anything more about Larry that hasn't been said. He takes care of his (receivers) room as good as anybody.''
J.J. Nelson is probably third in the current pecking order of receivers.
''He just dropped a couple of balls but he's probably been the next-most consistent guy,'' Arians said.
Brittan Golden, a special teams whiz who caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from Palmer in last Saturday's preseason win over Oakland, seems a lock to make the team again, although he's sidelined with a groin injury sustained against the Raiders.
''Brit's always been solid,'' Arians said. ''He's a core special teamer. Whenever he plays, he makes plays.''
Williams, a third-round draft pick who had been out with shin splits ''jumped out there (in practice Tuesday) because he had some fresh legs, then he dropped a touchdown,'' the coach said. Williams might be ready to play eventually, probably by Thanksgiving, Arians said.
Jeremy Ross, who has played with six teams in five NFL seasons, was working with the first unit in Wednesday's practice.
As for the rest of the receivers, it's a mixed bag.
''Carlton (Agudosi) was looking good before he got hurt,'' Arians said. ''(Krishawn) Hogan does some good things and some bad things.''
The best of those second-tier receivers probably has been 5-foot-9 Chris Hubert, Arians said, who's been wide open on plays but ''we just can't hit him.''
The coach said the team will probably keep six wide receivers. Whether all six are currently in camp ''remains to be seen,'' he said. The Cardinals, he meant, might sign someone new instead.
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