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Steelers players rally behind Antonio Brown, condemn Vontaze Burfict


PITTSBURGH — Multiple Pittsburgh Steelers players spoke out against Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict for his elbow to Antonio Brown‘s head in the third quarter of Pittsburgh’s 28-21 win on Sunday.

Right tackle Marcus Gilbert said Burfict should be suspended for the play.

“That’s pathetic. The NFL has to do something about that,” Gilbert said. “A guy like that, going out there intentionally trying to hurt people, there’s no need for that kind of playing in this league. It’s sad. One of these days he’ll grow up.”

According to a report by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the NFL is reviewing three plays that Burfict was involved during the game to determine the appropriate level of discipline. Those three plays are his elbow on Brown, and two plays in the second half in which he led with his helmet.

Brown caught a pass over the middle and was tackled by two Bengals defenders when Burfict flew in with his right elbow, connecting with Brown’s upper body/head area. Brown was down on the turf for a few seconds and got evaluated by the team on the sideline before re-entering the game.

Brown finished with a 31-yard, game-winning touchdown with 10 seconds left.

After the game, Brown called the play a “nasty hit.”

“Thank God I was able to come back in the game to finish the game,” he said.

Burfict has a long history of egregious hits, fines and suspensions since entering the league in 2012. He served a four-game suspension to start the 2018 season for violation of the league’s substance abuse policy. Burfict hasn’t played more than 11 games in a year since 2013.

During the 2015 season, Burfict had a hand in injuring the Steelers’ three best offensive players — Brown, Le’Veon Bell and Ben Roethlisberger — with questionable play.

The league has emphasized protecting quarterbacks with revised roughing the passer calls, but guard David DeCastro would like to see receivers protected as well.

“It’s tough to see AB get hit like that,” he said. “With all the emphasis on quarterback safety, what about a guy like AB: A superstar he is in this league, how much money he’s getting paid, how much he means to this team? A cheap shot like that, I thought was unnecessary. … If they want to talk about making this game safer, maybe they will do something. Or maybe they will put in a new rule that no one is going to call when it matters. Maybe it’s a PR stunt.”

Steelers players consistently praise Burfict’s ability as a player, but wish he would tone down the viciousness.

“He’s hurting his team,” Gilbert said. “It could have been a costly penalty right there. Who knows? He should be suspended for that hit. We’ll see. But he’s too good of a football player to be missing games like that.”



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Antonio Brown says of lawsuits — Facts will prove my innocence


Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown, who is facing two lawsuits from an April incident in Florida, said Thursday that the claims made against him are false.

Brown allegedly yelled at security and threw items from the balcony of a South Florida apartment last spring, according to documents obtained by ESPN. Both lawsuits are for “damages in excess of $15,000, exclusive of” attorney fees and interest.

A guardian of a 2-year-old boy is suing Brown for “intentional infliction of emotional distress and assault” after items flung from the 14th floor of The Mansions at Acqualina nearly hit the child, according to Miami-Dade County court filings. The child was with his grandfather near the pool area of the complex when large items — including two vases, an ottoman and other pieces of furniture — fell close to them, according to the filings, which say the child has experienced anxiety and trouble sleeping since.

The owner of the multimillion-dollar condo Brown leased also has filed a case against Brown for damages and breaching the apartment agreement.

“It has now been made public that two lawsuits containing false claims have been filed against me,” Brown said. “The facts will soon come out that prove my innocence. My focus will remain on football and I will not let the cases serve as a distraction.”

“We are aware of and will continue to monitor the civil suits” against Brown, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Wednesday.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said at his Tuesday news conference that he has no knowledge of Brown’s situation. The organization will not be commenting on the matter, according to a spokesperson.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told ESPN the league is closely monitoring the situation.

Brown’s attorney, Darren Heitner, who has filed a notice of appearance and a motion for extension on the case, declined to comment.



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Antonio Brown sued after allegedly throwing items off balcony


PITTSBURGH — Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown faces two lawsuits from an April incident during which Brown allegedly yelled at security and threw items from inside a South Florida apartment and off a balcony, according to documents obtained by ESPN.

Both lawsuits are for “damages in excess of $15,000, exclusive of” attorney fees and interest.

A guardian of a 2-year-old boy is suing Brown for “intentional infliction of emotional distress and assault” after items flung from the 14th floor of The Mansions at Acqualina nearly hit the child, according to Miami-Dade County court filings. The child was with his grandfather near the pool area of the complex when large items — including two vases, an ottoman and other pieces of furniture — fell close to them, according to the filings, which say the child has experienced anxiety and trouble sleeping since.

The owner of the multimillion-dollar condo Brown leased also has filed a case against Brown for damages and breaching the apartment agreement.

Brown called Sunny Isles Beach Police at 10:08 a.m. on April 24 and was “very agitated” upon the arrival of two officers, yelling at security that he thought set him up to be blamed for theft from the day before, according to the police’s incident report. The alleged items stolen include $80,000 and a gun, according to TMZ.

“Apparently when Mr. Brown got upset he started throwing things in the apartment and the coffee table glass was broken along with a few other minor objects,” the Sunny Isles incident report states. “He also threw some objects from the balcony into the pool area causing minor damage there as well.”

The officer eventually calmed Brown, who promised there would be no other issue, the report states.

But much damage was done, including previous complaints of “all kinds of parties and disturbances,” according to George A. Minski, the lawyer representing the condo owner.

“The apartment was in shambles,” Minski said. “Mirrors were smashed, tables were destroyed, there were holes and damages to the walls. Countertops were lifted off the deck. The unit is furnished with leather couches and love seats, and there were burn holes and black magic markers. It looked like they had rumbled. We tried to resolve it amicably and it got nowhere so we filed a lawsuit.”

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said at his Tuesday news conference that he has no knowledge of Brown’s situation. The organization will not be commenting on the matter, according to a spokesperson.

Brown’s attorney, Darren Heitner, who has filed a notice of appearance and a motion for extension on the case, declined to comment.

Ophir Sternberg, the child’s guardian who filed the distress suit, issued a statement Tuesday.

“Mr. Brown’s out of control and inexcusable behavior could have killed my son. His reckless tantrum displayed complete disregard for the safety of others,” Sternberg said. “We intend to hold Mr. Brown accountable, to hopefully ensure that something like this never happens again.”

Minski said Brown signed an apartment lease for three to six months but vacated the property shortly after the incident.

In the spring, Brown missed a series of voluntary team workouts and bemoaned “constant” pressure from the media upon his return.

“I can’t go nowhere and work out by myself. Fans come meet me at the field — I can’t do nothing normal,” Brown said. “You guys write about me every day. My mom and my kids see it. So we have to deal with these type of things. I started to think to myself, am I really free? I can’t really express myself in this game. I can’t really tell you how I feel.”



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Antonio Callaway of Cleveland Browns pleads not guilty to marijuana, suspended license charges


Cleveland Browns receiver Antonio Callaway pleaded not guilty Sept. 27 to misdemeanor charges of marijuana possession and driving with a suspended license related to an August traffic stop, according to NFL Network and Ohio.com.

Callaway was stopped at 2:59 a.m. on Aug. 5 in suburban Cleveland. Police found a small amount of marijuana in the car and learned that Callaway was driving with a suspended license.

Callaway’s attorney, Kevin Spellacy, said the marijuana was not Callaway’s.

“He’s emphatic that he did not possess marijuana,” Spellacy told Ohio.com.

Callaway told police that his car had been shipped to him in Cleveland a few days before he was pulled over and that he was not aware that there was marijuana in the car.

Spellacy attributed the suspended license to a paperwork issue caused by Callaway’s move from Florida to Ohio.

The Browns stood behind Callaway after the incident. His next court appearance is not yet set.

This is not Callaway’s first off-field incident. He also had a positive drug test at the NFL scouting combine caused by a diluted sample. That put him in the NFL and NFL Players Association’s substance abuse program.

A rookie fourth-round pick, Callaway has 10 receptions for 155 yards and one touchdown.

In a separate matter, the Browns placed cornerback Terrance Mitchell on injured reserve, though he likely will be designated to return. Mitchell had started every game this season but broke his wrist in the second quarter of Sunday’s loss in Oakland.

Teams can designate two players to return from injured reserve during the season. The designation does not need to be made until the player returns to practice. Mitchell can return to practice in six weeks but has to miss a minimum of eight games.

To take his place on the roster, the team promoted Jeremiah McKinnon from the practice squad.



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Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antonio Brown on modest start: ‘Watch the tape’


PITTSBURGH — Antonio Brown had a go-to answer when asked about his modest start to the season and his plans to break out.

“Watch the tape,” he said.

Brown referred to the tape eight times Friday in a one-minute span during his media interview at his locker.

Brown is coming off a turbulent Week 3 that included missing a work day due to a personal matter, tweeting “Trade me let’s find out” to a critic who said he’s not the same receiver without Ben Roethlisberger and a sideline confrontation with coordinator Randy Fichtner.

Brown bounced back with a touchdown in a 30-27 win at Tampa Bay.

But JuJu Smith-Schuster leads the team in receptions (27) and receiving yards (356), with Brown ranking second with 24 catches for 210 yards.

Brown, who ranks third in the NFL with 42 targets, looked to big-picture goals and stressed he can’t control when the ball comes his way.

“My statistics are already there. I’ve already done everything from a statistical point,” Brown said. “Obviously, it’s out of my control. I can’t throw it to myself. But what’s important is we continue to win. I’m getting a lot of respect out there. Guys are doubling me, tripling me. But what’s new? We’ve got to continue to win. Winning is most important. Obviously I think I’m the top-rated receiver from 2010 (among) who’s in the league. It’s all about winning at this point.”

Multiple times, Brown referenced not having control over whether the ball is thrown his way.

From 2013-17, Brown set an NFL record with five straight seasons with at least 100 catches. Last year, Brown was on an MVP-caliber pace with 1,533 yards and nine touchdowns before suffering a Week 15 injury.

Roethlisberger still targets Brown early and often but admits he’s not forcing the ball to his top receiver as much these days, acknowledging the supporting cast is getting open and defenses are still double-teaming Brown.

Smith-Schuster said he expects more attention from defenses, which will bring more balance to the attack.

“I think that’s on the come, very soon,” Smith-Schuster said. “I think I’m going to get a double-team. More and more as time comes on, they’re going to slow me down … Right now, AB is taking the double-teams, I’m able to get my plays in. When the time comes, if I get double-teamed, someone has to make those plays.”

Asked if he considers himself a No. 1-caliber receiver, Smith-Schuster deferred to Brown while breeding confidence.

“Man, to be behind Antonio, I feel like I do everything possible just to keep up with that,” Smith-Schuster said. “So, yeah.”

Brown is confident the big plays with Roethlisberger will come over a 16-game season. His media session was tamer than a week ago, when Brown responded to the criticism with defiance. Asked about the change in tone, Brown said he wasn’t upset last week and is blessed to play football, while teasing something bigger.

“It’s all about winning a championship, getting in the Hall of Fame,” Brown said. “It’s bigger than me. Bigger than stats. I’m trying to do something special. As long as we continue to win, the number will add up themselves. I’m still doing my job, regardless of if the ball is coming. I’m still running full speed, being a professional. Just gotta continue to do what’s right.”



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Ben Roethlisberger defends ‘passionate’ Pittsburgh Steelers teammate Antonio Brown


PITTSBURGH — Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is supporting teammate Antonio Brown after a turbulent 72 hours.

Roethlisberger said he’s spoken to Brown and is not taking Brown’s actions — including a sideline confrontation with offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner, a “trade me” tweet to a critic and a no-show Monday — personally.

“I think that he’s the best in the world,” Roethlisberger said of Brown. “When you’re the best in the world, you want to help participate, you want to win football games. We’re all a little frustrated that we’re not winning right now.”

Brown was clearly upset with his role during Sunday’s 42-37 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs and did not address the media after the game. On Monday, former Steelers public relations staffer Ryan Scarpino tweeted Brown wouldn’t be the same player without Roethlisberger, to which Brown replied, “Trade me let’s find out.”

That same day, he didn’t show up to work for what agent Drew Rosenhaus called a “personal matter” in a statement.

Coach Mike Tomlin said during his Tuesday news conference that he would speak “very directly” to Brown about all that’s happened, but he added Brown would be a “significant guy” for the Steelers’ 2018 efforts.

Roethlisberger said Wednesday from his locker that Brown’s tweet wasn’t directed at him and isn’t concerned about Brown’s behavior as of now.

The 0-1-1 Steelers are seeking a much-needed win at Tampa Bay on Monday Night Football.

“AB is a very passionate football player, I think we all know that, the fans know that,” Roethlisberger said. “That’s what makes him special, the passion he has for this game and the passion to be great. We’re not going to want to take that away from him.

“When he gets frustrated in games, just tell him to stay with me, talk to me, communicate with me, let me know how I can — if I missed you on something, if you’re getting open and I didn’t see you, let’s just talk and communicate. He does a great job of doing that.”

Brown leads the league with 33 targets, but none of his 18 catches have gone for more than 22 yards. Brown couldn’t break loose Sunday with 67 yards on nine catches despite Roethlisberger’s 452 passing yards and three touchdowns.

Brown was seen walking off the field by himself, head down, while the rest of the offense celebrated a Roethlisberger touchdown scramble with 1:59 left.

Brown and Roethlisberger have become one of the most potent duos in NFL history with five straight 100-catch seasons.

Brown’s antics and Le’Veon Bell’s absence over the franchise tag have placed a spotlight on the Steelers’ locker-room culture under Tomlin. But Roethlisberger points to organizational stability — mainly, the team’s three head coaches since 1969.

“I love this franchise, this organization, and it starts at the top with the Rooneys,” Roethlisberger said. “Art is a great leader for all of us. There’s a reason there have only been a few coaches here. If there were issues at that level, we’d have a lot more turnover there. I think at some point the coaches have to do their thing, but it also comes down to players doing theirs.”

That could include staying off social media, as Roethlisberger said he does. On occasion, he’s told teammates not to address “trolls or whatever” who bait players into responses.

“It’s just about being about your business, about your job, going out to practice, to meetings, being on time, and making sure you hold guys accountable,” Roethlisberger said.



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Mike Tomlin disciplines Pittsburgh Steelers WR Antonio Brown for missing meeting


PITTSBURGH — Steelers coach Mike Tomlin on Wednesday disciplined All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown for missing work Monday.

“He and I met yesterday for an extended period of time,” Tomlin said after Wednesday’s practice. “I’ll leave the nature of that conversation between us. There was discipline involved for his missed meeting on Monday.”

Tomlin did not field questions. Brown is scheduled to address the media Thursday.

Tight end Jesse James said Brown practiced fully Wednesday and is in the game plan for Monday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Cornerback Artie Burns said the discipline is “between him and the coach,” but said the team supports Brown and expects him to play.

Brown was a no-show to Steelers headquarters the same day he tweeted “Trade me let’s find out” to a former Steelers public relations staffer who posted that Brown wouldn’t be the same player without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Defensive end Cam Heyward, one of four team captains, said he spoke to Brown this week but will keep details private. “I don’t make those decisions but, shoot, I’d be a little surprised if he’s not there [Monday night],” Heyward said.

Brown also got into a confrontation with offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner on the sideline during Sunday’s 42-37 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, which dropped the Steelers to 0-1-1 this season.

Roethlisberger said he has spoken to Brown and is not taking his actions personally.

“He’s the best in the world,” Roethlisberger said of Brown. “When you’re the best in the world, you want to help participate, you want to win football games. We’re all a little frustrated because we’re not winning right now.”

Brown was clearly upset with his role during Sunday’s loss to the Chiefs and did not address the media after the game. On Monday, he didn’t show up to work for what agent Drew Rosenhaus called a “personal matter” in a statement.

Roethlisberger said Wednesday from his locker that Brown’s tweet wasn’t directed at him, and he isn’t concerned about Brown’s behavior as of now.

“AB is a very passionate football player. I think we all know that, the fans know that,” Roethlisberger said. “That’s what makes him special, is his passion for this game and the passion to be great. We’re not going to want to take that away from him.

“When he gets frustrated in games, just tell him to stay with me, talk to me, communicate with me. … If I missed you on something, if you’re getting open and I didn’t see you, let’s just talk and communicate. He does a great job of doing that.”

Brown leads the league with 33 targets, but none of his 18 catches has gone for more than 22 yards. Brown couldn’t break loose Sunday, with 67 yards on nine catches despite Roethlisberger’s 452 passing yards and three touchdowns.

Brown was seen walking off the field by himself, head down, while the rest of the offense celebrated a Roethlisberger touchdown scramble with 1:59 left.

Brown and Roethlisberger have become one of the most potent duos in NFL history; Brown has five straight 100-catch seasons.

Brown’s antics and running back Le’Veon Bell‘s absence over the franchise tag have placed a spotlight on the Steelers’ locker room culture under Tomlin. But Roethlisberger points to organizational stability — mainly, the team having just three head coaches since 1969.

“I love this franchise, this organization, and it starts at the top with the Rooneys,” Roethlisberger said. “Art is a great leader for all of us. There’s a reason there have only been a few coaches here. If there were issues at that level, we’d have a lot more turnover there. I think at some point, the coaches have to do their thing, but it also comes down to players doing theirs.”

That could include staying off social media, as Roethlisberger said he does. On occasion, he has told teammates not to address “trolls or whatever” who bait players into responses.

“It’s just about being about your business, about your job, going out to practice, to meetings, being on time, and making sure you hold guys accountable,” Roethlisberger said.



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Agent says Antonio Brown doesn’t want trade from Pittsburgh Steelers


PITTSBURGH — Antonio Brown does not want to be traded by the Steelers and was not with the team Monday because he was dealing with a personal matter, his agent said.

Brown got into a sideline confrontation with offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner during Sunday’s 42-37 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs and responded ‘Trade me let’s find out’ to a former Steelers staff member who tweeted Brown wouldn’t be the same player without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

“The tweet yesterday was not in reference to anything other than Antonio responding to a person he knows,” Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. “It was not directed toward a trade, or wanting to be trading. It was a personal response to a former Steelers employee who insulted him. Any idea he was asking for a trade is not accurate. Secondly, yesterday he had a personal matter. I talked to the team about it. His issue was unrelated to the tweet or his relationship with the team. Third, anything you see between AB and the coaches, AB has an incredible drive to win. He just wants to win. That’s all that that is. That’s not anything more than him encouraging his coaches and teammates to win. And that’s what his entire focus is on. Any notion, any speculation otherwise, can be put to bed. This is a non-story that has been blown out of proportion. We can end this right here and now.”

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was set to meet with Brown on Tuesday to discuss his absence and other issues surrounding the All-Pro receiver.

“I’m looking forward to visiting with him today and discussing (the absence) and some other things,” Tomlin said during his weekly news conference Tuesday. “I’m not going to get into the details of why he wasn’t here or whether or not he was excused. I just assume leave those things in-house. I understand sometimes you have some negativity. We lost a football game. There were some negative exchanges on the sideline. That’s frustrating, associated with not playing well and not winning. I understand all that. There are opportunities for us to respond to it, particularly in the early portions of the year, to utilize negative experiences that occur to educate our team at this point in the journey so it becomes a non-factor as we move forward.”

Asked if Brown actually wants to be traded, Tomlin chuckled and said, “No.”

A team source told ESPN that Brown is fully expected to be in the building for Wednesday’s work day.

Brown was not in the locker room or part of the walkthrough Monday, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette first reported Brown didn’t show up at all.

His ‘Trade me’ tweet was his second social media flare-up in as many weeks. On Wednesday, Brown publicly apologized for a tweet threatening ESPN senior writer Jesse Washington about a profile titled ‘Antonio Brown is an Instagram All-Pro. But is that the full picture?’

Tomlin said he won’t comment directly on player happenings on social media, which features “gray area” and “very little accountability,” but he made clear players should be held to a higher standard.

“It’s important that we understand our position, the light that shines on us and the responsibility that comes with it,” Tomlin said. “It’s been a couple of instances now where you’ve asked me about Antonio regarding some social media-like things, I’ll address that and address that very directly with him, but I will leave that between he and I. I won’t utilize this forum to address such things. I just don’t believe it’s appropriate. I believe this forum is a very professional one.”

Asked if he’s tired of Brown being the same player he’s asked about repeatedly regarding social media issues, Tomlin bristled, then pointed to his team’s 0-1-1 record heading into a Monday Night Football matchup with the 2-0 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“I’m focused on real legitimate things. Seriously,” Tomlin said. “We gave up a few big plays, we’re playing a team that’s big-play capable. We haven’t won a game yet. Those are the real things.”

On his weekly radio show Tuesday, Roethlisberger said he doesn’t believe Brown wants to be traded but plans to speak to his receiver Wednesday. Tuesday is considered an off day for the team.

Brown and Roethlisberger have connected for an NFL-record five consecutive 100-catch seasons together, and Brown currently leads the NFL with 33 targets, resulting in 18 catches for 160 yards and one touchdown.

But Brown and Roethlisberger appeared to have a miscommunication on a third-and-goal in the final minutes against Kansas City, and Brown walked off the field by himself after Roethlisberger’s fourth-down touchdown scramble while the rest of the offense celebrated in the opposite end zone.

“I think it’s just frustration,” Roethlisberger said. “He’s a competitor. He wants to be the best in the world and he probably is. I think he was getting frustrated and he took it out on some people. I give Randy a lot of credit not losing it on him.”



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Antonio Brown of Pittsburgh Steelers apologizes over threat tweeted at ESPN reporter


PITTSBURGH — Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown has indirectly apologized to an ESPN reporter after threatening him in a tweet over a story about the playmaker.

A team spokesman delivered an apology to ESPN senior writer Jesse Washington on Brown’s behalf, and Brown issued a statement to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Wednesday.

Washington, a senior writer for ESPN’s The Undefeated, published a piece last week titled, “Antonio Brown is an Instagram All-Pro. But is that the full picture?” On Friday, the day the piece ran, Brown tweeted directly to Washington, “wait to I see you bro we gone see what your jaw like.” Brown eventually deleted the tweet that circulated online.

“I made a mistake in judgment with my tweet last week, and I apologize for that,” the statement to the Post-Gazette said. “It is not OK to threaten anyone and I need to be better spiritually and professionally. Though I do not agree with the negative parts of the story about my personal life, I need to have better control over my actions to use social media as a way to engage with my fans, rather than use it improperly.”

These are not Brown’s first incendiary remarks toward a reporter this season. In August, Brown called veteran Post-Gazette reporter Ed Bouchette a “clown” on Twitter for Bouchette’s observational tweet that Brown was limping off the practice field in training camp.

Asked about the matter at his news conference Tuesday, coach Mike Tomlin said he didn’t want to address “social media things.”

“You know, we could talk all day about things that are online or on the internet or on social media,” Tomlin said. “I just choose to stay away from it because it’s a waste of my time. There’s very little accountability, there’s very little journalistic integrity, etc. Guys say things they don’t mean. I talk to my teenagers about it all the time. Let’s keep it professional and in the real. I think that’s appropriate in this setting.”



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Chargers will carve out a role for Antonio Gates vs. Chiefs – Los Angeles Chargers Blog


COSTA MESA, Calif. — Lost in all of the fuss about Joey Bosa not playing on Sunday because of a new left foot injury was the news that the Los Angeles Chargers will also get an impact player back for the season opener.

Cornerback Trevor Williams was a full participant in practice this week and will start against the Kansas City Chiefs.

If you remember, Williams suffered a sprained left ankle while defending receiver Mike Williams during the first week of training camp. Like Bosa, Williams did not play in any preseason games.

However, the time off allowed Williams to get healthy, and the Penn State product says that he’s ready to start where he left off last season, when he recorded 56 tackles, 13 pass breakups and two interceptions in his first year as a starter in place of an injured Jason Verrett.

“I’m feeling good,” Williams said. “It’s been a long, three-and-half or four weeks, but I’m glad to get back Sunday.”

The Chargers will need Williams to be at his best, facing a lot of speed on the field at the receiver position from the Chiefs in Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins and Chris Conley.

Williams also will go against electric quarterback Patrick Mahomes, making just his second career start.

“Watching tape on those guys, they do have a lot of speed,” Williams said. “The quarterback has a nice arm, but we’ve just go to make sure we eliminate the big plays, stick to our fundamentals and our game plan. If we do that, I think we’ll be in good shape.”

Let’s take a look at a question from this week’s mailbag:

@eric_d_williams: After watching him practice for a week, Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn was straight forward when asked if veteran tight end Antonio Gates will play on Sunday.

“He looked good — it’s almost like he picked up where he left off,” Lynn said. “So we’ll see what he can do on Sunday.”

Lynn said the plan is for Gates to play against Kansas City, a team he’s totaled 115 receptions for 1,431 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns in 16 NFL seasons — all career highs.

There’s a reason the 38-year-old tight end is headed to the Hall of Fame after his playing career is over. Gates is a physical freak who apparently does not need offseason work or training camp.

Gates looked like his old self out on the field running routes this week, surprising Lynn and his new tight end coach Rip Scherer, who met Gates for the first time on Monday.

“I was pleasantly surprised,” Scherer said. “He’s a pro. The thing I was most impressed with is he’s real coachable. I’ve coached tight ends for three years and he’s played it for however many at a high level, and he really accepts coaching, is open-minded and contributes.

“I’m learning probably more from him than he’s going to learn from me.”

Scherer went on to say that Gates has been an asset for the other tights end on the active roster in Virgil Green and Sean Culkin because of his relationship with Philip Rivers and the offense.

Neither Green or Culkin have caught a pass from Rivers in a regular-season game, while Gates has caught 87 career touchdown passes from Rivers.

That relationship should bear fruit for the Chargers on Sunday, but don’t expect the Bolts to overuse Gates against the Chiefs, instead choosing their spots based on where he can have the most impact.

“We’ll see how he feels Sunday,” Scherer said. “[His usage] is to be determined — how much, how often, if — all of those things. That’s Anthony’s [Lynn] call and Whiz’s [Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt] call ultimately. I’m trying to do my best to get him ready.”

For answers to more mailbag questions, click here.





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