If the game was in Baltimore, it might give Marquise “Hollywood” Brown the feels a little bit more. But Sunday’s game at State Farm Stadium between Brown’s current team, the Cardinals, and his former team, the Ravens, still is different than most games.
“I’m excited to play against them,” Brown said. “A lot of my friends are still there.”
Brown still talks with Lamar Jackson “all the time” about non-football topics, and the two are looking forward to seeing each other on the field.
“That’s my boy,” Jackson said. “Him being here – what was it, three or four years – it’s going to be different. It’s going to be very different, but I’m happy for him – no doubt.”
When Brown was traded to the Cardinals from the Ravens on the first day of the 2022 draft, both sides got what they wanted. The Ravens were looking for a pick; Brown was hoping to get to a passing offense and it didn’t hurt that his college teammate and best friend was quarterback for the team he was traded to.
His time with the Cardinals hasn’t gone exactly to plan. He had a great start in 2022 before injuries to both he and Kyler Murray limited them to seven games together (they started an eighth, but Murray was hurt on the game’s third play.). This season, with Murray recovering from his ACL injury, Brown has had some high-profile wide-open routes fall incomplete as he tries to mesh with current QB Joshua Dobbs.
“It’s tough,” Brown said. “Whenever you feel like you leave plays like that, especially big plays like that, not only for myself but the team that can, you know, turn a loss into a win, it’s frustrating. But you have to be in love with the process and for me, it’s the process of being around Josh Dobbs and knowing what he’s been through and trying to help him the best I can.
“A lot of the plays, even if he missed, I feel like I am the caliber of player to make it happen for him, and that’s all I try to do week in and week out. I want to find ways to make his job easier.”
This season Brown has 32 catches for 382 yards and three touchdowns, not the kind of gaudy numbers a wideout would like in his contract year. But Brown has played well even if the statistics don’t scream it, and soon, he will be reunited with Murray on the field.
“I feel like the stats don’t tell it all,” Brown said. “Talk to my coaches, everyone has been pleased with how I’ve been playing. I feel like I have taken a big step in my game as far as route running, releases and doing what is asked of me.
“I feel like I am a totally different player from (Baltimore) until now. I feel like I’m way more polished. I understand everything so much better, not only the football aspect of things but the stuff that goes into it.”
— Murray is officially listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game, and that really isn’t that surprising given his only two weeks of practice. He has to be activated no later than Nov. 8. So it seems the question is now, does he play in Cleveland next week, or does he debut at home against the Falcons?
— Uniform update: The Cardinals will wear red-on-red on Sunday.
— Trey McBride has hurdled in a game twice in his playing career. Once was in college at Colorado State, once was last week against Seattle. Both were on tight end screens.
“It’s not something I go in planning to do, but I know I’m a bigger guy and these DBs are looking to tackle me low,” McBride said. “That’s one advantage I have, that I can jump somewhat high.”
With Zach Ertz on IR and needing to miss at least four games, McBride, the 2022 second-round pick, will get his chance to show more. In only 21 targets this season McBride has looked solid, with 15 catches for 170 yards.
“I’ve prepared the same way the last seven weeks,” McBride said. “I’m going to be playing a little more and my role is going to be a little bit bigger, but I don’t feel any more pressure, I don’t feel any different than the last six weeks.
— It’s been a drastic change for Dobbs so far this season. In the Cardinals’ first four games he had four TD passes, no interceptions and a passer rating of 99.4 In the last three games, Dobbs has two TDs, three INTs, and a passer rating of 61.3.
— Two of the best kickers in NFL history will be on the field Sunday. Matt Prater, who owns the NFL record for 50-yard-and-over field goals (74) in his career and also the top percentage from that distance (74.7), also had kicked the longest field goal in NFL history (64 yards) until Tucker broke it last year (66). Tucker is tied with the retired Sebastian Janikowski for the second most 50-yard field goals (58).
— Prater did miss a 34-yard field goal last week in Seattle through no fault of his own. The hold was never right from Blake Gilikin, who couldn’t the laces spun facing out before Prater kicked the ball, and it made a difference.
“There is coaching involved with everything that happens on the field especially when things don’t go the way you envision them,” special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers said. “I try to talk to everybody based on what you see. Sometimes on the sidelines, you can’t see everything. Even on the tape sometimes it’s hard to see that actual action. Most kickers don’t want to kick the laces so that’s something that shows up, ‘OK, why did that happen, how can the snap be better, how can the hold be better, how can we overcome that kind of kick.’ The whole operation needs to be better.”
Rodgers said the Cardinals continue to work through any issues between Gilikin – who was signed Oct. 3 – and Prater, but added Gilikin has been “really good” holding in practice.
— This is the first time in franchise history – a franchise that predates the NFL starting in 1920, mind you – that the Cardinals have had a quarterback, running back and a wide receiver all with at least 100 rushing yards. And we are only seven games into the season.
— Tackle D.J. Humphries, understandably, declined to talk about getting ejected last week in Seattle. It will be interesting to see if Humphries is fined this week when the fines are announced Saturday, because there is an argument after watching replay he shouldn’t have been kicked out.
— Kyler watch stays in place another week. See you Sunday.
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