Brown suffered a partially torn calf in Week 15, and he’s ready to go against the Jaguars in the Divisional Round.
Antonio Brown hasn’t played since being sidelined with a calf injury in Week 15, and the Pittsburgh Steelers hoped he would be ready for the postseason. Luckily for them, Brown will play in the Divisional Round against the Jacksonville Jaguars, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. The six-time Pro Bowler was reportedly a game-time decision heading into this matchup.
Brown was a full participant during the Steelers’ Wednesday and Thursday practices, but he fell ill on Friday and didn’t practice. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin sent Brown home — telling reporters that he didn’t want Brown to get anyone else sick.
“Antonio has looked really good,” Tomlin said, via the team’s official website. “He didn’t participate today. I sent him home with an illness. I didn’t want him to get any of the guys that weren’t sick, sick. We’ll bring him back in the building tomorrow. I don’t have a lot of reservations about him from a physical health standpoint. We do need to get him well from an illness standpoint.”
Tomlin said he expected Brown would play, but Pro Football Talk reported that Brown’s calf injury is still an issue and he was expected to be a game-time decision.
On Saturday, Steelers fans received some optimisitic news:
— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) January 13, 2018
But then ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Brown’s calf isn’t “close to 100 percent” and that the wide receiver would go through warmups before the game to see if he could play. Apparently, Brown’s calf responded well.
Why is this important? The Steelers already have a lot of weapons on offense, like running back Le’Veon Bell and receivers Martavis Bryant and JuJu Smith-Schuster. But Brown is the most dangerous player on this team. He finished with a league-high 1,533 reception yards and eclipsed 100 catches in five consecutive seasons. Now, Pittsburgh needs him to have a huge game against the Jaguars’ second-ranked defense.
Jacksonville cruised to a 30-9 victory against Pittsburgh in Week 5, but the team couldn’t slow Brown down. He collected 10 passes for 157 receiving yards. However, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger tossed five interceptions, which ruined the Steelers chances of winning.
Brown, even if he’s not 100 perecent, should be able to attract multiple defenders, so other players will have opportunities to make big plays.