Steelers' Antonio Brown could pad stats vs. Colts
After repeating it a half dozen times over the final 2 minutes of speaking with a media gaggle Friday, Antonio Brown suggested he has a favorite new pet phrase.
“That's my saying,” the All-Pro Steelers receiver explained after practice. “We spread it around here a lot. It's called, ‘Grab that.' ”
The expression has multiple interpreted meanings — beyond the literal, of course.
“That ball's in the air,” Brown said, “center it in your hands — ‘Grab that.' ”
A pair of defenders bracketing Brown, Ben Roethlisberger throws toward him anyway, ball in the air, what is Brown thinking?
“Grab that,” he said. “Grab that.”
Finishing first in a major receiving statistic again is something Brown can, um, grab, too. Brown has 835 receiving yards and holds a hefty 132-yard lead on the No. 2 in that category, a player who not only has roots similar to Brown's but also plays for the Steelers' opponent Sunday.
“T.Y. is from my hometown, a great guy from Miami, Fla.,” Brown said. “I'm happy for him.
“But I've got a lot of other motivation other than one guy.”
Brown might not even get the chance to face Hilton. The reigning AFC offensive player of the week after having five catches for 175 yards and two touchdowns in a win at Houston was a late add to the Indianapolis Colts' injury report this week. After being limited in practice Thursday and Friday, he is questionable to play Sunday.
Should Hilton sit, Brown likely would tighten his grip on the yardage lead (Houston's DeAndre Hopkins is third, 143 yards behind Brown, and he has a backup quarterback throwing to him the rest of the season).
Of course, considering the opponent, Brown might extend his lead regardless. Against the Colts, Brown has seven touchdowns in four games. Against no other opponent has he scored more often, despite facing some 3½ times more often.
The 417 receiving yards Brown has against Indianapolis rank third among non-AFC North teams. In games against Indianapolis once each during the past three seasons, Brown has combined for 23 catches for 342 yards and seven touchdowns.
Last Thanksgiving at Lucas Oil Stadium, where the teams meet Sunday, Brown had touchdown receptions of 25, 33 and 22 yards in a 28-7 victory.
“I forgot about everything last year,” he said, “Last year don't even matter. I'm looking forward for a good opportunity this weekend to go out there and compete against those guys.”
Brown led the NFL in catches by an 18-reception margin with 129 in 2014, and he also led the league in receiving yards (1,696).
The following season, he tied Atlanta's Julio Jones for the most catches with 136. Then last season, Brown was denied a third consecutive NFL receptions crown when he sat out the meaningless regular-season finale, and Larry Fitzgerald passed him for the title 107-106.
“You see him every day working to try to be the best in the world,” offensive coordinator Todd Haley said, “and I'm not surprised by the results he's had.
“But that's from hard work, determination, a quarterback and a receiver who have a great, great relationship and understanding of each other, and they're able to make it go.”
Brown is on pace for 114 catches and 1,630 yards this season.
“He's always sharpening his tools of his fundamentals of what he does,” Steelers receivers coach Richard Mann said. “Footwork, top of the routes, getting off the ball, stacking people.
“We work at that all the time in the drills — and when we don't do it, he will come and say, ‘Coach, let's stack. Stack the red line a little bit,' or, ‘Let's get some releases done … Let's do the footwork.' It's what he loves to do.”