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If Antonio Brown can’t play Sunday, Bucs can brandish receiver depth

To this point, backups Scotty Miller and Tyler Johnson have combined for one catch.
Bucs second-year receiver Tyler Johnson (18), making a catch against Titans cornerback Kristian Fulton (26) during a joint practice in August, has one reception in the team's first two regular season games.
Bucs second-year receiver Tyler Johnson (18), making a catch against Titans cornerback Kristian Fulton (26) during a joint practice in August, has one reception in the team's first two regular season games. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Sep. 23
Updated Sep. 23

TAMPA — Like all their NFL peers, the Bucs have been bracing themselves for the possibility of the coronavirus creating holes on their roster.

Fortunately for them, its initial blow landed on their deepest position.

Wide receiver Antonio Brown’s stint on the reserve/COVID-19 list likely means backups Scotty Miller and Tyler Johnson will log their first extensive action of 2021 Sunday against the Rams in Los Angeles. Miller, an unlikely star of last season’s NFC title game, still is seeking his first reception of 2021. Johnson has one catch in two games.

“Any time you play with the team that we have ... and you’re the fourth, fifth and sixth guy in that (receiving) room, you’re just really waiting for opportunities,” offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich said Thursday.

“(Miller) and Tyler, really that whole room is just waiting to get the opportunity to make plays. In the game of football, between injuries and COVID and everything now, I think guys will have opportunities just because it’s football.”

Brown was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday and would need two negative tests 24 hours apart to be eligible to play Sunday, leaving his status for the game very much in doubt.

To this point, the Bucs passing game essentially has run through Brown, fellow receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin and tight end Rob Gronkowski. The four have accounted for all nine of the team’s touchdown receptions and 39 of its 56 catches.

“I think everyone kind of knew this situation,” quarterback Tom Brady said.

“It’s just the way things are now with stadiums full and families traveling. We’re definitely at more risk this year. I don’t know what we can do about it, but in our situation we’ll just deal with it and try to get some other guys prepared, and if (Brown) can’t go, he can’t go.”

Contact Joey Knight at jknight@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.

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