Tampa Bay Buccaneers rule Antonio Brown out of NFC championship game with knee injury

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will travel to Green Bay without seven-time Pro Bowl receiver Antonio Brown this weekend.

Head coach Bruce Arians announced Friday that Brown’s knee injury would preclude him from playing in the NFC championship game.

"To put him on the plane and fly out there and have it swell more doesn’t make any sense,” said Arians, who discussed the decision with Brown on Friday morning.

"He wasn’t as close as we had hoped so we’ll get him ready for the next one."

If the Buccaneers beat the Packers on Sunday at Lambeau Field, they’ll become the first NFL team in 55 tries to compete in a home-stadium Super Bowl.  

Buccaneers WR Antonio Brown will miss Sunday's NFC championship game at Lambeau Field. (Photo: Kim Klement, USA TODAY Sports)

In eight regular-season contests with the Bucs, Brown caught 45 passes for 483 yards and four touchdowns. In the wild-card round win at Washington, Brown caught two of three targets for 49 yards and a touchdown in addition to a 22-yard rush. In New Orleans last week, he caught just one of three targets for 10 yards.

Tight end Cameron Brate and running back Leonard Fournette were the Bucs’ most productive receiving threats in that game, Scott Miller and Tyler Johnson also making clutch double-digit plays in the fourth quarter.

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“If you just look to last week when Scottie and Tyler got in there and made the huge plays in the fourth quarter, the amount of trust the coaches and Tom have in those guys is because they’ve earned it,” Arians said. “Their performance has earned it.

“So yeah, Antonio will be missed. But we’ve got people capable of stepping in.”

Brady, who lobbied for the team's controversial decision to sign Brown was disappointed for the receiver, whose five TDs with the team have all come over the past five weeks.

"It obviously sucks for Antonio," Brady said. “We all wish he could be out there with us and other guys are going to have to step up and do their job. I’ve got a lot of confidence in the guys that haven’t been out there as much when AB’s been in there.

“We’ll have to figure out a way to win regardless.”


Follow USA TODAY Sports' Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein

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