Tom Brady will be without one of his top receivers when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers take on the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship. Brady reacted to the news that Antonio Brown will not play against the Packers noting the team will have to “find a way to win” without the receiver.
“We’re gonna have to find a way to win,” Brady said, per the Boston Globe’s Ben Volin. “It obviously sucks for Antonio. We all wish he could be out there with us, and other guys are gonna have to step up and do the job.”
Wide receiver is a position of strength for the Buccaneers, and we can expect to see Scotty Miller and Tyler Johnson be more involved in the offense in Brown’s absence. Brady will still have plenty of weapons with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Rob Gronkowski still on the field.
Arians on A.B.: ‘We’ll Get Him Ready for the Next One’
Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians noted that Brown did not progress as much as the team originally hoped. Arians alluded to playing in the Super Bowl with Brown adding they would “get him ready for the next one.” It was a subtle sign of confidence from the Buccaneers head coach given the challenging road matchup in Green Bay.
“I just talked to him this morning, and to put him on the plane and fly up there and have it swell more doesn’t make any sense,” Arians noted, per ESPN’s Jenna Laine. “He wasn’t as close as we’d hoped, so we’ll get him ready for the next one.”
Bucs Starting Safety Antoine Winfield Jr. Is Questionable vs. Packers
Tampa Bay could also be without starting safety Antoine Winfield Jr. as he is continuing to recover from an ankle injury. The Athletic’s Greg Auman expects Winfield’s status not be revealed until close to kickoff.
“I don’t think we’ll know on Bucs safety Antoine Winfield until pregame warmups Sunday,” Auman tweeted. “It would be a significant absence, but the injury was Thursday, and on Friday, they chose to list him as ‘questionable,’ as opposed to ‘doubtful,’ so it’s still very possible he’s able to play.”
It is not all bad news on the injury front for the Bucs as Vita Vea will play in his first game since sustaining a fractured ankle against the Bears in Week 5. Arians praised how the defensive tackle looked in practice just before the Bucs made the decision to activate Vea.
“He’s looked real good,” Arians said on Friday, per Tampa Bay Times’ Rick Stroud. “He’s been running around for almost three weeks and had a real good practice yesterday and a good one today. So we haven’t made that determination yet but we’ll see if we want to activate him or not but there is a chance.”
Aside from the obvious reasons, Brown has a financial incentive on the table if the Bucs reach the Super Bowl. Brown’s contract allows the receiver to earn $750,000 if the Buccaneers win the Super Bowl, and he has played in 35 percent of the offensive snaps this season, per CBS Sports. The Buccaneers receiver will be rooting with both his heart and wallet as his team squares off without him against the Packers.