- NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport explains the genesis of the Antonio Brown situation in Tampa Bay started when the coaches told him to enter the game but Brown did not feel healthy enough with his ankle to go in. He told the staff he wasn’t going in because in his mind, he didn’t feel he was healthy.
- Rapoport says at that point, his understanding is the Buccaneers coaching staff and HC Bruce Arians threw him off the sidelines and cut him from the team essentially right there. After that, Brown made his infamous exit.
- Rapoport adds there has been a simmering frustration inside the organization about Brown’s rehab from an ankle injury and a perceived lack of diligence on his part. What was initially expected to be a minor injury ended up stretching several weeks, and there was of course the situation with the fake vaccine card.
- Ultimately, Rapoport says the relationship had been souring for a while and was trending toward ending after this season, but it ended up blowing up in a very public way on Sunday.
- Arians wasn’t willing to discuss Brown in the post-game press conference, but he did say to NBC Sports’ Peter King: “It’s a shame. I feel bad for him. He just can’t help himself.”
- Arians essentially confirmed he asked Brown to go back in the game and Brown refused. He didn’t mention anything about the ankle. Arians said he got “very” angry at Brown who then went to the bench and began taking off his pads despite WR Mike Evans trying to calm him down: “He had that look in his eye that I haven’t seen for a long time.”
- On Monday, Arians told reporters Brown didn’t say anything about his injured ankle before leaving the field vs. New York: “I don’t know that he was (injured). It’s pretty obvious what happened. He left the field and that was it. … We had a conversation and he left the field.” (Greg Auman)
- Arians mentioned it wasn’t easy to cut Brown: “It was very hard. I wish him well. I hope if he needs help, (he) gets some. It’s very hard. I do care about him.” (Auman)
- Arians didn’t say if the team will officially release Brown or place him on the did not report list: “That’s up to [GM] Jason (Licht) and what he wants to do.” (Auman)
- Scott Bair of the team website doesn’t think cutting LB Deion Jones is an option for the team in 2022 given it doesn’t save them anything substantial in terms of cash or cap. He also thinks Jones has been solid still even if he hasn’t been as good as prior seasons.
- Bair adds Falcons LB Foye Oluokun is making himself a chunk of money with his play this season and could potentially be pricing himself out of Atlanta. He’s set to be an unrestricted free agent in March.
- Falcons HC Arthur Smith said TE Kyle Pitts could play this week despite a hamstring injury: “We’re not ruling him out today.” (Tori McElhaney)
- Smith added RB coach Des Kitchens is leaving immediately to become the OC at Virginia. (Michael Rothstein)
- Panthers HC Matt Rhule said the team needs more consistency along the offensive line to properly evaluate QB Sam Darnold and QB Cam Newton.: “For us to truly see what Sam or Cam can do, we have tohave more consistency up front.’’ (David Newton)
- Darnold said it’s on him to perform better: “That’s not even something that’s on my mind. At the end of the day, I’m not playing good enough to win football games.’’ (Newton)
- Panthers LB Shaq Thompson admitted that the team is frustrated with their lack of on-field success: “Hell yeah, I’m frustrated. Busting my ass…we’re all busting our ass. And not to have the outcome, that’s frustrating.’’ (Newton)
- Thompson doesn’t feel that Rhule has lost the locker room, though: “I don’t think we lost the locker room. At all. People may be frustrated. Anybody would be frustrated on a losing streak.’’ (Newton)
- Rhule said Monday the team had a package for Newton in the red zone, and he felt Newton could have scored on his one play of the game had he gotten better blocking. (Joe Person)
- Rhule expects Darnold to start again this week. (Person)
- Rhule added third-round OT Brady Christensen took a “big step from previous games” and he has a future as a starter on the offensive line. (Newton)
- On the offensive line, Rhule believes the team needs a “true investment” in the offseason. (Person)
- Rhule said they won’t know if CB Stephon Gilmore is playing until Thursday: “If he can go, he will try to go, because he’s such a competitor.” (Newton)
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