TEMPE — Change has hit the Arizona Cardinals wide receivers room in a big way following the release of DeAndre Hopkins this offseason.
But what hasn’t changed is projected No. 1 option and wideout Hollywood Brown’s mentality.
“For me, I’m always working to be the best on the field no matter what,” he said Wednesday. “For me, I was just working. I wanted him to be here but he’s not and I know he’s going to do great things for wherever he goes. But for me, my thinking process and my role of how I see himself hasn’t changed.”
With Hopkins looking for a new place to hang his hat, Brown becomes the clear-cut choice to lead the WRs room in 2023.
And we all got a snapshot of what that might look like last year due to Hopkins’ PED six-game suspension.
Through the first six games, he racked up 43 catches for 485 yards and three touchdowns. He and quarterback Kyler Murray were linking up just like they thought they would.
That was until a Week 6 foot injury put Brown on injured reserve.
Despite his return in Week 12, Brown would only get one more full game with Murray before the QB was lost for the year with a torn ACL.
It was a tough ending to a strong start in the desert.
Now with a clean slate and a new coaching staff behind him, Brown is ready to show that six-game sample size in Year 1 was just a taste of what he can bring to the table as a football player and teammate.
“I want to prove that I can be the guy,” Brown said. “I want to prove that as an offense, as a team that we can be that team that we know we can be. I feel like everybody feels that way from coaches to all the players.”
“The guys we got around me, the guys we got all around, for me, it’s just about being that one of 11,” he added. “If I can execute my job when my number is called, being the guy, being not the guy, as long as I do my job.”
And while he hasn’t been in Arizona long, first-year head coach Jonathan Gannon knows firsthand what Brown can do to opposing defenses, having coached against him twice. First as a defensive backs coach in Indianapolis in 2020 before this past season as Philadelphia’s defensive coordinator.
In the Cardinals’ 20-17 loss to the Eagles in Week 5, Brown hauled in eight catches for 78 yards and a 25-yard touchdown.
Philadelphia walked away with the win and Gannon walked away impressed. Now, he has the opportunity to cause the other opposing defensive minds fits with what Brown has to offer.
“Just as a defender, the speed that he can put on you horizontally and vertically makes him a tough cover,” the head coach said. “He’s got instincts at the top of the route. He has different release patterns. Typically receivers have one or two releases that they use, he has about three or four that he can go to and win early in the down.
“Just from the aspect of, we know that the game’s about taking the ball away and explosive plays and he’s a threat. When he is out there on the field, you got to be alert for the ball going over your head. So obviously, he’s a great asset for us to have.”