About a week before the final preseason game, the Arizona Cardinals quarterback mentioned to the rookie wide receiver that Brown’s locker wouldn’t be near the other receivers. It was going to be in between Palmer’s and backup quarterback Drew Stanton's.
It took Brown about 10 minutes to find his locker when he arrived at the Cardinals’ Tempe training facility on the first day after the preseason.
“I thought it was a joke,” Brown said, sitting in front of his locker. “When I came in and really saw it, I could see he was dead serious.
“I never checked over here. I checked over where all the receivers were and I couldn’t find my locker. I asked them, ‘Where’s my locker?’ And everybody pointed me to this direction. I never came this way.”
Palmer wanted his rookie speedster next to him to continue building the bond they developed from spending a week together at Palmer’s San Diego home this summer. Now Palmer has direct access to Brown to discuss routes, plays and practices.
“He’s over here in the suburbs with us,” Palmer said. “He’s a guy that I like to kind of be talking through certain situations as practice comes up. He and I have had a great working relationship and this gives us a chance to go over some things during practice that we can cover after practice in different situations like that.”
Brown said Palmer, whose locker is to the left of Brown’s, didn’t waste any time talking about practice and various scenarios.
But Stanton, Brown’s neighbor to the right, doesn’t want to oversaturate the rookie with plays and minutiae. He and Palmer have already discussed trying to temper themselves on the football talk but it’s easier said than done, especially with Palmer having a better understanding of the offense this year than last season.
“Hopefully it’s not sensory overload; we’re telling him too much,” Stanton said. “I think a player like John, you just have to let him go out and play. Let him use his God-given ability and natural talent to go out there and just play fast.
“I think too much, it’s paralysis by analysis of guys just overthinking and especially in this offense.”
Having Brown just inches away can be helpful to both Palmer and Stanton, especially when they devise new wrinkles in the offense. Brown will also benefit just from listening to the quarterbacks talk.
He can get a better understanding of their thinking just from sitting there and seeing how they discuss certain plays, how they see different situations.
“I think it’s great because it gives you an opportunity to just be in their ear a little bit more,” Stanton said. “I think there’s not enough credit given to this down time that we can really pick up those little pieces.”
But the quarterbacks shouldn’t expect Brown to be picking up their coffee and donuts. That role goes to rookie quarterback Logan Thomas.
“He’s in a good spot because here we have Logan Thomas who is a rookie quarterback, so he’ll be providing breakfast on Fridays, donuts on Thursdays and lunch on Saturdays on away trips,” Palmer said of Brown. “Smokey [Brown’s nickname], he’s allowed to jump in on that if he wants, but he’s not going to have any duties from me.
“You’re going to have to talk to [receiver] Larry [Fitzgerald] and see what he’s got you doing over there. You’re home free, man.”
Brown said he doesn’t feel like he’s missing out not having his locker closer to Fitzgerald, Ted Ginn, Michael Floyd and Jaron Brown -- the first time in Brown’s football career that he remembers not being near the receivers.
He’s been a go-between for the quarterbacks and receivers.
“When they talk about something I miss out on, they come back and let me know,” Brown said. “I’ll go and tell them what Carson is talking about and what he’s thinking. It’s kinda like I’m the person that is translating, talking back and forth.
“I think it helps us all out.”