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Pittsburgh steelers Antonio Brown absent from games
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown's absence from Sunday's 16-13 win over the Cincinnati Bengals reportedly resulted from an argument with a teammate rather than a knee injury. According to Gerry Dulac and Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Brown threw a football at one of his teammates in an "unspecified heated dispute" during a walkthrough before practice Wednesday and then decided not to practice for the remainder of the week. He was reportedly not present for Saturday night's team meeting. Per Dulac and Bouchette, Brown expected to play Sunday and was at the stadium, but he was declared inactive and left at halftime. One player told Dulac and Bouchette the Brown situation was "embarrassing" and "the worst I've seen." That player also said the handling of the situation impacted his desire to play Sunday. Per NFL Network's Aditi Kinkhabwala, multiple Steelers players were surprised Brown didn't play Sunday. Following Friday's practice, head coach Mike Tomlin told reporters Brown was having his knee tested because he "didn't feel comfortable enough to [practice]," per Dulac and Bouchette. Brown's knee was never tested and played no role in his missing Sunday's game. Kinkhabwala noted Tomlin held a team meeting Monday and did not address the Brown situation. Brown was not present for the meeting. With regard to the incident at Wednesday's walkthrough, Kinkhabwala reported Brown and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had "a little bit of a disagreement." Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports noted Brown and Roethlisberger had an issue that was "fairly ugly" and that Brown was "totally in the wrong." Though the Steelers beat the Bengals, they missed the playoffs with a 9-6-1 record because the 10-6 Baltimore Ravens beat the Cleveland Browns on Sunday to clinch the AFC North. The 30-year-old Brown enjoyed another highly productive season in 2018 with 104 receptions for 1,297 yards plus a career-high and NFL-leading 15 touchdown catches. Brown was named a Pro Bowler for the seventh time in his nine-year NFL career, and he has now caught more than 100 balls in six straight campaigns. Despite maintaining his status as an elite wideout, Brown took a backseat to JuJu Smith-Schuster at times, as the second-year receiver led the Steelers with 111 receptions for 1,426 yards. Brown appeared frustrated numerous times throughout the season and seemingly directed his anger toward Roethlisberger and offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner. With Smith-Schuster emerging as a bona fide No. 1 receiver and the Steelers having selected James Washington in the second round of the 2018 draft, there will likely be speculation that Pittsburgh could trade Brown. If a team does deal for Brown, it will acquire the three years remaining on his contract at an average annual salary of $17 million.
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