Steelers WR Antonio Brown is dealing with a lower leg injury, and his status for Sunday and beyond is uncertain. Brown is the definition of a game-time decision, but he’s expected to dress for the game regardless.
Brown plans on testing out the injury, which has been described as a partial calf tear. Brown went down in a critical regular season matchup against the Patriots at the height of his abilities. Despite missing the final two games, Brown still finished the regular season with the receiving title by nearly 100 yards.
Brown was taken to a hospital during the game, and nearly needed surgery to relieve pressure on the area. Brown was originally thought to have compartment syndrome in the area, which is a very serioius condiditon.
“Compartment syndrome is one of the true orthopedic emergencies,” says Dr. David Chao. “If not treated, amputation is possible. The surgery to alleviate the issue requires a large and ugly incision, but return to full function is quick.”
Steelers fans have been eagerly anticipating Brown updates, but he hasn’t done much at practice. To make matters worse, Brown has been sick this week and was sent home from practice on Friday to recover.
Brown finished the season with over 100 catches for the fifth straight season. He was named AP first team All-Pro for the fourth straight season, joining Gronk and a handful of active players to receive the distinction four times.
Brown is so good, he’s the only receiver that torched the vaunted Jaguars secondary this year. The Steelers were crushed at home by the Jaguars, but Brown finished with 10 catches for 157 yards. No other receiver has gotten close to those numbers against Jalen Ramsey this year, and it’ll be interesting to see if the Steelers continue to feed a hobbled Brown against these elite defenders.
If Brown is unable to perform, the pass-catching responsibilities will likely shift to rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster. The USC standout finished short of 1,000 yards in his first NFL season, and has proven that he can produce in the NFL. In the two games without Brown to close the season, JuJu combined for 15 catches for 218 yards and two scores.
Brown is active for the contest, but could still be featured as a decoy. It’ll be interesting to see how aggressive Brown is used, and if it’s apparent at all he has a calf tear.