For the first time in over a year, the NFL saw one of its most talented receivers, Antonio Brown, take the field for a game after dealing with all sorts of off-the-field issues that caused him to miss so much time.
When Brown announced that he was making a comeback, everyone immediately pointed to Tampa Bay as a place that might be considered a landing spot for him. He played one game with Tom Brady in New England before his release and in that short period of time, he and Brady formed a strong connection that had Brady going to the folks in the front office at Tampa Bay pleading his case for them to take a chance on the superstar receiver. And that's exactly what happened.
Brown made his Buccaneer debut last week in the team's 38-3 blowout loss to New Orleans and finished the game with just three catches for 31 yards on five targets. He wasn't a big factor in the game by any means but moving forward, he is someone that teams are going to have to worry about.
Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Phil Snow talked to the media on Thursday afternoon about what he saw in Brown's return and how tough of a challenge it will be for his guys to defend him.
"It was his first game back and he's been off for a little while, but he looked fine in the game. I'm sure this week he'll really pick it up. The second week after coming back, I think you generate a lot more energy and your body gets used to playing again. But yeah, he's a problem - a big matchup problem."
Carolina has certainly had their issues in the secondary, specifically at corner where Rasul Douglas (spent two weeks on COVID list) and Donte Jackson (toe) have either missed entire games or parts of games. The depth behind those two is not in a great spot as guys like Corn Elder, Troy Pride Jr., and Stanley Thomas-Oliver III haven't played a ton of pro football. This is where we may see safety Jeremy Chinn, who is returning from a knee injury, play a big role. Typically, Chinn is covering in the slot or against the tight end but the Panthers have moved him all over the place, so covering Brown is certainly in play.
Even if Brown doesn't get going this week vs Carolina, he is going to be a problem in the NFC South moving forward. He has eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark seven times in his nine year career and has gone over 1,500 yards in a season four times.
The Panthers and Buccaneers are set to kickoff this Sunday at 1 p.m. on FOX.
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