The Pittsburgh Steelers have aspirations of Super Bowl victories in their future, and in order to reach such a goal, it would be rather beneficial to have their annual All-Pro, wide receiver Antonio Brown, on the field with them. The last time they didn’t have Brown on the field for a playoff game, it didn’t end so well.
The Steelers’ top wide receiver suffered a calf injury of moderate significance while attempting to catch a pass between defenders in the end zone against the New England Patriots the week prior to Christmas. He missed the team’s final two regular season games while recuperating from the injury.
But he reportedly returned to practice this week in some capacity, catching passes with the team yesterday. During his Tuesday press conference, head coach Mike Tomlin said that, if the team were to be playing a game this week, he would have assigned Brown with a ‘Questionable’ designation.
His teammates do not seem to be particularly worried about not having him out there, however. Center Maurkice Pouncey—himself a Pro Bowler this year along with Brown—told Jeremy Fowler for ESPN that “he wanted to come back to practice” already last week.
“They had to hold him back. That guy is such a competitor that we know he’s working every single day. It would be nice to have him out there last week, but it doesn’t really matter. He’s getting his body right, and he’s going to be ready to play”.
Of course, Brown would not have played this past week anyway, because Tomlin elected to rest a number of his key starters, Pouncey among them. Others given the finale off were quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, running back Le’Veon Bell, right guard David DeCastro, and defensive end Cameron Heyward.
Bell, perhaps one of the players on the Steelers closest to Brown, and the two players through which the bulk of the offense travels, reiterated that he is absolutely confident the wide receiver will be ready to play for the team in their next game on the 14th.
“I know how hard he works. And I know all the work and the time”, he said, “he’s been putting in and I’m confident he’ll be back”, while hinting that he has a bit more insider information into his teammate’s recovery than a member of the media would.
There is something about raising the stakes, though, that makes the body suddenly heal quicker, or so it seems, and that is what many, including Bud Dupree, believe is driving his healing process. “He wants a ring”, the outside linebacker said.
“He wants everything to go as planned even though he’s got a lot on his mind right now”. He had a lot on his mind during the team’s win over the Dolphins in the Wildcard Round a year ago, and got himself into a bit of trouble because of it. But that didn’t stop him from putting together a couple of dominant games.