Steelers' Antonio Brown ruled out, gets apology from Adam Jones

ByJeremy Fowler and Coley Harvey ESPN logo
Saturday, January 16, 2016

PITTSBURGH -- Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown has been ruled out for Sunday's playoff game at Denver, prompting an apology later Friday from the player who had accused him of faking an injury earlier in the week.

In an Instagram post, Bengals cornerback Adam Jones wished Brown well as he recovers from a concussion suffered on a brutal hit from Cincinnati linebacker Vontaze Burfict in the final minute of the Steelers' 18-16 wild-card win on Saturday.

After the game, Jones accused Brown of faking the injury and said publicly that he would apologize if Brown wasn't able to face Denver.

That apology came Friday, with Jones saying in part: "AB! My apologies, my brother. I'm a man of my word. I apologize sincerely. Get well."

Jones initially said he believed Brown would be cleared of the concussion protocol because the receiver winked at him while leaving the field on Saturday.

"I know he was faking it," Jones said on "The Dan Patrick Show" on Monday. "Go back and look at the play. If you go back and slow-motion play, you tell me that Vontaze hit him in the head or did his shoulder pads barely touch him?"

Added Jones early in the week: "He deserved a Grammy Award for that. I know if you got knocked out, you ain't going to be able to wink and tell me you're OK."

Brown, though, was not OK.

While sources said he told people in the building he was optimistic he could return Sunday, that was hardly a guarantee considering the sensitive nature of concussions. Brown has consulted an NFL-approved, offsite neurologist daily, but the Steelers opted to rule him out Friday, leaving the team without a receiver who had 136 catches, 1,834 yards and 10 touchdowns during the regular season.

Brown gave a thumbs-up and an indication he plans to play in the AFC Championship Game to ESPN while driving away in his car Friday.

Steelers wide receiver Markus Wheaton said Brown's supporting cast is willing to pick up the slack in Brown's absence.

"I know they've had a couple of good practices," offensive coordinator Todd Haley said of his receiver group. "This is a group that has shown they are pretty mentally tough. They prepare the same every week."

Wheaton said he can play the inside or outside receiver positions if necessary, and Martavis Bryant is more than a deep threat.

"We will definitely be up to the challenge," Wheaton said.

The Steelers also announced Friday that running backDeAngelo Williamswill not play because of a foot injury he suffered in the regular-season finale against the Browns.

Fitzgerald Toussaint and Jordan Todman will again replace Williams in Pittsburgh's backfield. The duo combined for 123 yards on 28 carries against the Bengals.

Steelers quarterbackBen Roethlisberger acknowledged he threw the ball briefly on Friday but declined comment, deferring to coach Mike Tomlin.

Roethlisberger has a sprained AC joint and ligament damage in his right shoulder. He has previously said he's day-to-day for Sunday's game at the Broncos.

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