Ravens' John Brown says sickle cell trait not affecting on-field production

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- New Baltimore Ravens wide receiver John Brown gave a surprising answer when asked how he's managing the issue of carrying a sickle cell trait at this stage of his career.

"I'm healthy. I'm feeling good," Brown said at his introductory news conference after signing a one-year, $5 million deal. "Sickle cell was never part of the problem."

Brown, 27, was diagnosed with the sickle cell trait as a member of the Arizona Cardinals in October 2016, when MRIs revealed no issues with his sore hamstrings. Carriers of this trait are more likely to experience muscle breakdown when doing intense exercise than those who don't have it.

But Brown believes the bigger issue relating to his health was a cyst on his spine, which caused so much pain and fatigue in his legs that he struggled to pick up his daughter. He had it drained after the 2016 season.

"It was just something we couldn't decide on or what they could find," Brown said. "So, they just used it as a 'sickle cell trait' until they found I had a cyst in my spine. I'm fine; I'm healthy, and I know how to handle the situation."

Brown continued to experience lingering leg issues last season after the cyst on the spine was treated. A strained quadriceps muscle caused him to miss the first three games of the Cardinals' preseason and sidelined him for two games in September.

In August 2017, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians noted that Brown's sickle cell issue remained a concern and still slowed his healing process with the quadriceps injury.

"That's a fact," Arians said. "Some guys are slow healers, some guys are fast healers."

Brown set career highs with 65 catches for 1,003 yards and seven touchdowns for Arizona in 2015. But his production has drastically dropped the past two seasons, when he has combined for 60 receptions for 816 yards and five touchdowns.