TAMPA, Fla .– The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will not have wide receiver Antonio Brown for Sunday’s NFC Championship game at the Green Bay Packers, coach Bruce Arians announced Friday.
“I just spoke to him this morning, and putting him on the plane and flying up there and pumping him up more doesn’t make sense,” Arians said. “He wasn’t as close as we had hoped, so we’ll get him ready for the next one.”
Brown injured his knee in the divisional playoff game at the New Orleans Saints and only played 27 shots. He did not practice this week.
The Arians had described him as “hand in hand,” but Brown was not able to move forward quickly enough in his recovery.
The former All-Pro led the Buccaneers in receiving targets the last five weeks of the regular season and landed a 36-yard touchdown in their victory over Washington. Brown also has experience in two league championship games and one Super Bowl, something few other players have on this roster besides Tom Brady.
“It obviously sucks for Antonio. We wish he could be with us,” Brady said. “Other guys are going to have to step in and get the job done. I have a lot of faith in the guys who weren’t there that much when AB was there.”
The Arians have said he believes Scotty Miller and rookie Tyler Johnson will be able to stand up. Johnson had a key third catch for 15 yards against the Saints. Miller grabbed a 29-yard catch against New Orleans, but he was the receiver of some of Brady’s best deep passing plays this season – a 33-yard touchdown against the Las Vegas Raiders and a 48-yard touchdown. against the Minnesota Vikings.
“I think if you look at last week, when Scotty and Tyler made those huge plays in the fourth quarter, the confidence that the coaches and Tom have in these guys just because they deserve it. Their performances have it. deserved. ”Ariens said.“ Antonio will be missed, but we have good people stepping in. ”
The Arians said it was possible defensive tackle Vita Vea would play after returning to training this week for the first time since his ankle fractured in Week 5.
“He looked really good. He’s been running for almost three weeks and had a really good practice yesterday and a good one today,” Arians said. “We haven’t made that decision yet, but we’ll see if we want to activate it or not. There’s a chance.”