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Tomlin: Antonio Brown's absence led to 'discipline'

NFL.com | Updated: 2018-09-21 14:00:15

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown made headlines in the hours after Week 2's loss to the Kansas City Chiefs when he responded via Twitter to criticism from a former team public relations staff member.

Brown, whose "trade me let's find out" retort created a social media storm, didn't help his situation Monday after he was absent for work, which head coach Mike Tomlin confirmed Tuesday without providing details. The wide receiver's agent, however, issued a statement saying Brown has not requested a trade and told NFL Network's Mike Garafolo the absence was for a "personal matter."

Three days into the work week, the drama continues to hang over Pittsburgh. Brown returned to the team Wednesday, and after practice Tomlin told reporters "there was discipline involved" for Brown missing Monday meetings. Tomlin refused to answer further questions about Brown and said the Steelers wideout would talk to the media Thursday.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger downplayed Brown's situation, telling reporters Wednesday he talked "a little bit" with Brown and attributed any level of frustration to the Steelers' 0-1-1 start to the regular season.

"I think that he's the best in the world," Roethlisberger said. "When you're the best in the world, you want to help participate, you want to help win football games. And we're all frustrated because we're not winning right now."

Through two games, Brown has amassed 18 catches for 160 yards and a touchdown on a team-high 33 targets, averaging a career-low 8.9 yards per catch.

The receiving yards are a stark contrast to the first two games in 2017 when Brown totaled 242 yards on 16 catches to help the Steelers get off to a 2-0 start; second-year wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster currently leads the team with 240 yards receiving.

"I think it's early in the season," Roethlisberger told reporters. "It's two games in ... obviously in the first game we had some elements that didn't let me get him the ball as much as I should have. And last week, they put a lot of guys on him, but other guys were open, too. I'm not worried about A.B., he'll be just fine."

Still, it's not like the Steelers haven't attempted to throw it to Brown, as he was targeted 16 times in Week 1 and 17 times in Week 2.

The plays down the field, however, haven't occurred yet for Brown, who averaged 15.2 yards per catch in 2017 en route to being selected a first-team All-Pro for the fourth time in his career.

While it is early in the season and putting Brown's individual production at this point aside, Roethlisberger believes everything will eventually be OK, especially if the Steelers get on track in the win-loss column.

The quarterback is likely correct, as winning tends to cure everything, after all.

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