TAMPA, Fla – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won’t have a broad receiver Antonio Brown for Sunday’s NFC championship game at the Green Bay Packers, coach Bruce Arians announced on Friday.
“I was just talking to him this morning and there is no point in putting him on the plane and flying up there and making it swell more,” said Arians. “It wasn’t as close as we’d hoped, so let’s get it ready for the next one.”
Brown suffered a knee injury in the division’s playoff game at the New Orleans Saints and only played 27 snapshots. He hasn’t practiced this week.
Arians had described him as “day to day,” but Brown was unable to advance his healing fast enough.
The former all-pro led the Buccaneers to preserve goals for the last five weeks of the regular season, scooping a 36 yard touchdown catch on their wildcard win over Washington. Brown also has experience in two championship games and a Super Bowl, which few other players on this roster outside of Tom Brady have.
“It obviously sucks for Antonio. We wish he could be out there with us,” said Brady. “Other guys have to come up and do the job. I have great faith in the guys who weren’t out there as much when AB was in there.”
Arians said he believes Scotty Miller and rookie Tyler Johnson will be able to improve. Johnson made an important third catch for 15 yards against the Saints. Miller only had one catch for 29 yards against New Orleans, but he ended up at the end of some of Brady’s best deep pass games of the season – a 33-yard touchdown against the Las Vegas Raiders and a 48-yard touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings.
“I think if you just look back at last week when Scotty and Tyler played those huge games in the fourth quarter, the trust the coaches and Tom have in these guys just because they deserve it. Their performances have it earned.” “Said Arians.” We will miss Antonio, but we have capable people to fill in. “
The Buccaneers will attack Vita Vea defensively against the Packers as he is activated from injured reserve ahead of Sunday’s game. Vea returned to training this week for the first time since a broken ankle in week 5.
“He looked really good. He’s been running around for almost three weeks and had really good practice yesterday and good today,” said Arians.
In a similar move to activate Vea, the buccaneers dispensed with security guard Earl Watford.