A disappointing season for the Pittsburgh Steelers is only getting uglier.
According to both NFL Network and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, star receiver Antonio Brown skipped practices, a walkthrough and a team meeting Saturday night and eventually left Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals at halftime due to frustrations over a disagreement with a teammate.
NFL Network reported that the teammate was quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the incident happened during last Wednesday’s walkthrough.
Following that Wednesday session, the Steelers listed Brown’s participation under the DNP designation for did not practice. The reason given was “coach’s decision.” After Brown didn’t show up for Thursday’s practice, according to reports, the Steelers again listed him as DNP, but then issued a reason of “coach’s decision/knee.”
After Thursday’s practice, reporters asked offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner about Brown’s health.
“I’m not sure,” Fichtner said. “You’ll have to ask the trainers. I’m not going to answer any questions about Antonio. Next.”
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Brown again didn’t show up for Friday’s practice, per reports, at which point coach Mike Tomlin said that Brown would be undergoing testing for the knee injury.
“Coming out of the game, also, AB experienced some knee discomfort,” Tomlin said Friday of Brown’s participation in Week 16’s 31-28 loss to the Saints. “I gave him a vet day on Wednesday like I give a lot of vet days to guys. He got in here yesterday. He didn’t feel comfortable enough to do it. We sent him for tests today. We’ll get the results of those tests and have more information. Obviously he’s a veteran player. If it gets better, there’s not a lot of physical repetitions needed to perform. We’ll see where all of that goes.”
The Steelers eventually labeled Brown as questionable for Sunday’s game.
According to the reports, Brown then skipped the Saturday walkthrough and team meeting but showed up to Heinz Field for Sunday’s game, where he was declared inactive.
Both outlets reported that Brown left the stadium at halftime.
The Steelers eventually won the game 16-13, but the offense struggled against the Bengals’ league-worst defense. Pittsburgh needed the victory and a loss by the Ravens to squeak back into the playoffs as the AFC North winner. But Baltimore pulled out a 26-24 victory against the Browns to secure the division.
NFL Network reported that some Steelers players were frustrated that Tomlin did not address the situation with the team on Monday during their exit interviews and final team meeting of the season.
Brown, 30, finished the season with 104 receptions for 1,297 yards and a league-best 15 touchdown catches.
Follow Lorenzo Reyes on Twitter @LorenzoGReyes.