PITTSBURGH (AP) Antonio Brown hasn’t seen as many passes thrown his way lately.
The All-Pro wide receiver isn’t happy about his reduced role in the offense since Mike Vick took over at quarterback Sept. 27 when Ben Roethlisberger sprained the MCL in his left knee during a win at St. Louis.
After mildly complaining about the situation Wednesday, Brown struck a more patient tone Friday as the Steelers held their final practice in advance of Sunday’s game against the visiting Arizona Cardinals.
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”Obviously Ben is able to play within what he’s seeing,” Brown said. ”I think Mike is just comfortable right now with just playing whatever has been called and sticking to that script. I think Ben does a great job of being able to audible some things to put in a better position, as far as what he’s seeing and being able to just be a playmaker.
”I think everything takes time. I’m comfortable with him. I just think he’s got to be comfortable with just making plays. I think he’s doing everything he can just to make sure he doesn’t mess up and just to make sure to put us in a position to win. As time keeps going on, I think he’s going to eventually take some shots and take some chances.”
Brown has caught just eight passes on 15 targets for 87 yards in the two games Vick has started. In the season’s first three games, Brown had 29 catches on 35 targets for 426 yards and two touchdowns.
When the Steelers lost in overtime to Baltimore in Vick’s first start, Brown’s NFL-record streaks of 35 consecutive games with at least five receptions and 50 yards, and 14 consecutive games with at least seven catches both ended.
Vick understands the importance of Brown to the Steelers’ offense. However, Vick is also still learning the nuances of the playbook; he was not signed as a free agent until the end of the preseason when backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski was put on injured reserve.
”I am still working on it,” Vick said of getting Brown more involved. ”This week we said we aren’t going to put an emphasis on it. We said we are just going to let everything happen naturally, and go out there and play to win. And that’s the most important thing.”
Brown took great pride in his streaks, but offensive coordinator Todd Haley believes the Steelers need to keep the offense simplified.
”It’s about trying to get a win with a quarterback that hasn’t been here a whole lot of time and has to continue to do the things he is doing, which is protecting the football, first and foremost,” Haley said. ”This team we are playing, they do a great job on offense. But they have 13 takeaways on defense that is putting their offense in a lot of really good spots. We can’t be a team giving them those opportunities.”
NOTES: Roethlisberger was officially ruled out for Sunday’s game, along with linebacker Ryan Shazier (shoulder) and safety Will Allen (ankle). Shazier will miss his fourth game in a row since being injured late in a win over the 49ers. Allen was hurt in Monday night’s win at San Diego. . Cornerback Cortez Allen (knee) and linebacker Jarvis Jones (hip) are listed as questionable.
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