No DeAndre Hopkins. No Rondale Moore. No A.J. Green available for the second half because of injury.
Wide receiver Marquise Brown understood the assignment and answered the challenge Sunday in the Cardinals’ 20-12 defeat to the Rams in Week 3.
“He did a good job as he continues to get comfortable in the system,” coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “He’s going to be a good player for us.”
Brown finished with 140 receiving yards on 14 catches, averaging 10 yards per catch. It’s the first 100-receiving-yard performance for Brown as a Cardinal in three games. His catch total is a career-high as well.
But Brown was thinking about what caused the loss, not what he achieved in the box score.
“I feel terrible,” Brown said. “I didn’t even know I had a big game until I came in here and heard the stats. I was just out trying to make plays. But to lose is not a good feeling.”
The connection between quarterback Kyler Murray and Brown on Sunday is what the Cardinals envisioned when the team acquired Murray’s best friend and college teammate last offseason. Brown had 17 targets, the most in his career.
Their one mishap happened late in the third quarter when Brown beat Rams cornerback Derion Kendrick on a post route downfield. Murray slightly overthrew Brown on the shot that should have been a touchdown, causing the hands-on helmet frustration gesture.
“I let it go too early,” Murray said. “But he made a bunch of plays.”
As the Cardinals receiving room deals with the injury bug and continue to await Hopkins’ return from suspension, Brown will continue to be the main target of the pass game.
Brown isn’t thinking about more games with increased targets or the task of carrying the load, though. He’s just doing his part to help the Cardinals win games.
“We’re light at receiver, so if I have to play the whole game with no break, I’ll do it,” Brown said. “If the ball comes, my job is to catch it. I’m not worried about how many.”