One of the Buccaneers’ top offensive players is at risk of missing the NFC championship game against the Packers on Sunday.
Wide receiver Antonio Brown limped through much of the divisional round with a knee injury and had an MRI on Monday afternoon, according to ESPN. Results of the test have not yet been announced.
Brown’s devastating bursts on short routes make him an important part of quarterback Tom Brady’s game plan. Opponents must account for him near the line of scrimmage while also protecting from Mike Evans and Chris Godwin sprinting past the secondary to haul in deep balls. Without him in the lineup, an entire dimension of a potent attack would be hampered.
Coach Bruce Arians declined to speculate on the severity of Brown’s injury after Tampa Bay beat New Orleans this past weekend.
Godwin has been plagued by drops this month after being sure-handed throughout the regular season. In potentially frigid conditions at Lambeau Field, that problem might be magnified. Brown has appeared in 12 playoff games in his career and caught 62.1 percent of his targets — better than Godwin’s rate of 47.4 percent in a limited sample size.
Brady did connect with unheralded receivers late in the win over the Saints, making key completions to Scotty Miller and Tyler Johnson. They would take on a larger role if Brown was limited moving forward.
Plus, Brady can always look to trusted tight end Rob Gronkowski — one of his favorite teammates and another proven playoff competitor.
The Buccaneers are 7-3 in games Brown has participated in this season.