Steelers' Brown optimistic about chances vs. Cowboys
Receiver Antonio Brown is ready to explode against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday at Cowboys Stadium.
He has seen enough film to believe the Dallas secondary can't check him, and he likes what he sees in the Cowboys' punt coverage team.
The only problem is Brown's still-tender ankle. There remains a stinging pinch when he aggressively plants his right foot.
“My body is less than 100 percent, so I can't do what I want to do,” said Brown, who is listed as probable after sitting out Friday's practice with an illness. “I can't make that move to do what's necessary without feeling the pain.”
Brown insists nothing will keep him from going all out in a game the Steelers (7-6) need to win to keep pace with AFC North rival Cincinnati (8-6) in the hunt for a wild-card berth.
Brown is hardly the only Steeler playing with pain or discomfort. That list that includes linebacker LaMarr Woodley (ankle), receiver Emmanuel Sanders (shoulder) and cornerbacks Keenan Lewis (hip) and Cortez Allen (groin).
“We'll all just tape it up and go on,” Brown said. “We won't make any excuses. When I'm out there, I have to be productive no matter how I'm feeling.”
Brown hasn't been as effective since returning Dec. 2 after sitting out three weeks with a high-ankle sprain. He has nine receptions for 93 yards, and he has had few chances to make things happen on punt returns, including nary a return yard in a 34-24 loss to San Diego last weekend.
If nothing else, Brown is feeling stronger mentally.
“You've really got to be mentally strong,” said Brown, who has 51 catches for 592 yards, both third best on the team. “Sometimes your mind can tell you that you're all right, but your body is still less than ideal. You have to be strong-minded and have a strong faith to give the team all you've got.
“As the weeks go on, I'm looking for more opportunities to get the ball in space. I'm able to put my foot in the ground, so I'm sure it's coming.”
Brown said he has positives to show since returning. However, almost nearly every positive punt return has been wiped out by penalties, which is one reason the team ranks 31st (6.7 yards) in punt-return average.
“We've just got to keep it clean with the penalties,” he said. “Last week we had a return for 30 yards that was called back by a foul that pushed us back to the 6-yard line, and we give up an interception.
“It's been really devastating having some good returns called back. It's not about me. It's about the other 10 men, too. As they go, I go. We had two returns called back at Cincinnati and against San Diego.
“I think there are definitely some opportunities against Dallas. They have a directional punter (Brian Moorman) who aims the ball where he wants to hit it. If we can pick out some spots, we should be able to get a couple good returns.”
With the Steelers essentially in playoff mode, the pressure is on Brown to recapture the explosiveness that made him arguably the Steelers' the most-feared receiver.
“I won't say I'm feeling any pressure, but that is the mentality,” he said. “We want to make that splash play to rally the team and get it going to make sure we're in position to win. That's always the attitude when I'm on the field.”
Ralph N. Paulk is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Big plays cost Steelers defense in 43-19 preseason loss at Bills
- Healthy, confident Steelers LB Shazier ready for full speed ahead
- Steelers notebook: Tomlin leaving `light on’ for injured players
- Steelers won’t change scheme after Pouncey injury
- Dog-loving fans irate about Vick signing with Steelers
- Steelers hope 6-sack game gives glimpse of pass-rush capabilities
- Steelers ink QB Vick, new teammates OK with signing
- Veteran quarterback Vick is vowing to make Steelers proud
- Starkey: Steelers stopping themselves with suspensions
- Steelers notebook: Mitchell injures left ankle in practice
- Steelers won’t change contract policy for Antonio Brown