A day after officially becoming a member of the Buccaneers, Antonio Brown reported for his first day with his new team. Brown, whose eight-game suspension is set to expire after this week, is expected to make his season debut against the Saints in Week 9.
The 32-year-old Brown, who is allowed to attend meetings while working out with the team's strength and conditioning coaches, has made a quick impact on Bruce Arians, Brown's offensive coordinator during his first two NFL seasons.
"He looks fantastic. I think we had really good conversations today, he and I," Arians said of Brown, via ESPN's Jenna Laine. "He was in the meetings and everything. And he's working with Anthony Piroli and the strength staff. He looks in great shape. Yeah, ready to go next week."
Brown resumes his career after a tumultuous 18 months that included ugly exits from Pittsburgh and Oakland. Over the past few months, however, Brown had remained mostly silent since the NFL suspended him for violating the league's personal conduct policy on July 31. And after receiving interest from several teams (including the Seahawks), the Buccaneers were ultimately the team that decided to give Brown another opportunity.
"I think he's matured," Arians said of Brown following Sunday's 45-20 win over the Raiders, via Greg Auman of The Athletic. "I believe in second chances. Everybody wants to say Tom picked him. Tom didn't have anything to do with it."
Brown will be reunited in Tampa Bay with Tom Brady, his quarterback during his brief stay in New England.
"He's a tremendous football player," Brady said of Brown, a fellow member of the NFL's All-Decade Team for the 2010s. "I played with him for a brief period of time. I'm looking forward to working with him again. He's a very hard-working guy."
Brown is set to join a Buccaneers offense that has scored 83 points over the past two games. Through seven games, Brady has thrown 18 touchdowns against just four interceptions. In this past Sunday's win over the Raiders, Tampa Bay amassed 454 total yards and 29 first downs while going 7 of 12 on third down and 5 of 6 in the red zone. Along with a talented receiving corps, Tampa Bay's offense also includes tight end Rob Gronkowski (who caught five passes for 62 yards and a touchdown against the Raiders) and running backs Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones, who last Sunday combined to rush for 84 yards and a touchdown.
Tampa Bay receivers Scott Miller and Chris Godwin, who combined to catch 15 passes for 197 yards and two touchdowns against the Raiders, were also asked about the addition of Brown, the NFL's leader in receptions, yards and touchdowns from 2013-18.
"It's a really unselfish group," Godwin said. "We're looking forward to adding another really good piece."
"I'm excited," said Miller, who said the Buccaneers' receiving corps -- a group that also includes three-time Pro Bowl receiver Mike Evans -- can be scary. "The end goal is to win, every single week."
A sixth-round pick in the 2010 draft, Brown was the NFL's most prolific receiver from 2013-18. During that span, Brown became the first player in league history to catch at least 100 passes for six consecutive seasons. HIs best season took place in 2015 when, despite not having Ben Roethlisberger for four games, he set career highs with 136 receptions for 1,834 yards and 10 touchdowns.
In 2017, Brown was gaining MVP momentum before a lower body injury held him out of Pittsburgh's final two games of the regular season. Brown, despite not being 100% healthy, returned for the Steelers' divisional round playoff game against the Jaguars, where he managed to catch seven passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns in Pittsburgh's 45-42 loss.
For all of his individual success, Brown has never hoisted the Lombardi Trophy. The closest he's come to winning football's ultimate prize came as a rookie, when Brown's Steelers fell to the Packers in Super Bowl XLV. Brown will now get another chance to win that elusive championship with a quarterback that already has several Lombardis in his trophy case.
"He wants to play," Arians said of Brown on Wednesday. "If you want to play, you've got to do it. In our conversation today, it's, 'Go to football practice, go to work, come home and go back to work.' He's all-in. I don't think we'll have any problems with those things."