FOXBORO, Mass. — Antonio Brown will be eligible to play this weekend against the Miami Dolphins. Whether he actually will remains unclear.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick would not confirm during his Friday morning news conference whether the team plans to have Brown active on Sunday.
“We’ll do what’s best for the team,” Belichick said. “… I’m not going to hand out a copy of the game plan here. We’ll do what we think’s best for the team.”
The uncertainty surrounding Brown largely stems from his legal situation. A former trainer of his, Britney Taylor, accused him of sexual assault and rape in a civil lawsuit filed Tuesday, one day after the wide receiver signed with the Patriots. The NFL reportedly will not place Brown on the commissioner’s exempt list as it investigates these allegations, leaving the Patriots to decide whether he will suit up against the Dolphins.
But even without those off-the-field questions, it wouldn’t have been surprising to see Belichick leave Brown off the 46-man gameday roster in his first week with the team.
That’s the approach New England took after trading for receiver Josh Gordon early last season. Gordon sat out his first game with the Patriots and played sparingly in the next two before being elevated to the starting lineup.
Belichick said Friday that Brown, who made his Patriots practice debut Wednesday, has “a long way to go” in his transition to New England’s offensive scheme. The 31-year-old starred for the Pittsburgh Steelers for nine seasons before spending this past spring and summer with the Oakland Raiders.
“Obviously, he’s not familiar with our offense,” Belichick said. “The systems that he’s been in have been quite different. (Raiders coach Jon Gruden) does the West Coast offense, which has very little carryover from their system to our system. … And a similar thing in Pittsburgh. He’s working hard to pick it up, and we’re working hard to get it to him.”
The Patriots currently sit at 1-0 after dismantling the Steelers 33-3 last Sunday in their regular-season opener.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images