- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 12, 2014

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) - John Brown’s long, difficult journey to the NFL makes his the most intriguing story of the Arizona Cardinals’ training camp. The fact that he is very, very good makes it even better.

No one has made a bigger splash in the Glendale workouts than the small, speedy wide receiver from Pittsburg State, an NCAA Division II school in Kansas.

Brown is, quarterback Carson Palmer said, “the guy that kind of caught everyone’s eye.”

And no one thinks he is just a training camp wonder who will fade when the real season starts. Watch the practices, and there is no doubt this 5-foot-11, 179-pound player has the speed and skills that coach Bruce Arians loves.

“He’s got the whole package right now,” Arians said.

In his NFL debut last Saturday night, Brown caught five passes for 87 yards in Arizona’s 32-0 rout of Houston.

“He’s been very impressive in every facet,” teammate and eight-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. “He’s extremely fast and quick, he catches the ball very well, he’s been elusive. It’s been really fun to watch him just in a short period of time. He’s going to be a big part of what we’re going to do this year.”

The quiet young man from Homestead, Florida, brushes aside the praise.

“I have to get better because there’s another week,” Brown said. “One great game, one good game doesn’t do it. So I have to prove it every week.”

How long has he lived by that attitude?

“My whole life,” he said.

No big colleges gave Brown a serious look out of high school in 2009. He wound up at Mars Hill University, a Division II school in North Carolina. Academic problems forced him to transfer to Coffeyville Junior College in Kansas. But there was no scholarship for him, so he missed a second consecutive season.

Away from the field, it was far worse. His brother was shot outside a night club and after a long struggle died in 2010.

“He put up a fight for nine months,” Brown said after he was drafted. “It taught me a lesson that no matter how hard things get, you can’t give up.”

Word got to Pittsburg State coaches about Brown’s workouts at Coffeyville, and he was offered a scholarship. The first time he touched the ball for the school, he returned a punt 84 yards for a touchdown.

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