Antonio Brown’s status for Tampa Bay‘s NFC Championship showdown at Green Bay looked more in question on Thursday at practice.
Brown, who injured his knee at New Orleans in the Divisional Round, didn’t participate in the practice session open to media on Thursday according to The Athletic’s Greg Auman.
As Auman mentioned, the Bucs listed Brown as day-to-day. Brown didn’t practice at all on Wednesday according to the Bucs’ injury report. Bucs head coach Bruce Arians said in Wednesday’s press conference that “it’s too early to tell” if Brown will play.
Arians changed Brown’s status on Thursday to being a “game-time decision” instead of “day-to-day” per ESPN’s Jenna Laine.
Brown’s MRI didn’t show any serious damage according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, which leaves the door open to Brown playing on Sunday.
Whether or not Brown plays, Bucs quarterback Tom Brady will have plenty of wide receivers who caught passes against the Saints and can keep the passing game going. That includes receivers Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Scotty Miller, and Tyler Johnson. Brown caught only one pass for 10 yards against the Saints in a 30-20 victory.
The former Pro Bowler had a strong stretch of performances going into the Divisional Round. He scored five touchdowns in the previous four games and went over 90 yards receiving twice. He also averaged 12 or more yards per reception in all of those games except a Dec. 26 win at Detroit where the Bucs ran away with the game quickly in a 47-7 victory.
Bucs offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich said on Thursday that his unit will be prepared with or without Brown per Pewter Report.
The Bucs have a 6-2 mark without Brown this season before he signed with the team as a free agent amid off-field troubles. Brown played the final eight games of the regular season and finished with 483 yards receiving and four touchdowns.
Tampa also didn’t have linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul at the media portion of practice on Thursday per Pewter Report. He also missed Wednesday’s practice, the reason being listed as a knee/not injury related.
Pierre-Paul had a big pass breakup early in the game at New Orleans, which kept the Saints before building a two-score lead per Buccaneers.com’s Scott Smith. Pierre-Paul also had two tackles in the win.
He’s also one of the few Bucs players with experience playing a postseason game at Green Bay’s Lambeau Field. Pierre-Paul played for the New York Giants in 2011 when his team knocked out the Packers en route to a Super Bowl win over Brady, ironically, and New England Patriots.
Arians said Pierre-Paul not practicing won’t prevent him from playing according to Pewter Report.
Vea Full Speed
Bucs defensive end Vita Vea went full speed in practice on Thursday, looking to return to the field for the first time since breaking his ankle in Week 5. It was his first practice back per ESPN’s Jenna Laine.
Arians said he like what he saw of Vea in Thursday’s press conference.
Vea had two sacks and 10 tackles before his Week 5 injury in a loss to the Chicago Bears.