Bruce Arians: Antonio Brown left due to lack of targets
Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Buccaneers HC Bruce Arians: Antonio Brown left due to lack of targets

Before star wide receiver Antonio Brown seemingly quit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and stormed off the field during last Sunday's win at the New York Jets, he missed multiple practice sessions due to the ankle injury he first injured back in October. 

The Buccaneers officially released Brown Thursday after the seven-time Pro Bowl selection took to social media to say, among many other things, he needed surgery to repair his ankle. Head coach Bruce Arians spoke with reporters later in the day to explain his side of the story. 

"He was very upset at halftime about who was getting targeted," Arians said of Brown, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. "Got that calmed down, players took care of that. It started again on the sideline. We called for the personnel group that he had played in the entire game. He refused to go in the game. That’s when I looked back and saw him basically wave off the coach. I then went back, approached him about what was going on. 'I ain’t playing.' What’s going on? 'I ain’t getting the ball.' That’s when I said, 'You’re done, get the eff out of here.'" 

According to ESPN stats, Brown left Sunday's matchup with three catches on five targets. 

"You can’t force a player to play," Arians continued. "I mean, they have that choice. It’s their body. He decided to play. He and Mike [Evans] both were on pitch counts. And we were trying to manage that the best we could in the first half." 

Arians also refuted previous claims and said Brown never told coaches, team doctors, or a trainer he couldn't continue playing at the Jets because of his hurting ankle. 

It's possible, if not likely, those on the outside will never know the full truth about all that happened between Brown and the Buccaneers before, during and shortly after Jan. 2. Assuming Brown is serious about having surgery and not playing again until next season, Arians and company no longer need to worry about the 33-year-old and instead must do everything to move on from the situation as they pursue a second consecutive Super Bowl championship. 

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