PITTSBURGH (AP) — Mike Tomlin understands Antonio Brown’s competitiveness is what helps make Brown one of the best wide receivers in the NFL.
The Pittsburgh Steelers coach just wishes his star would do a better job of channeling it properly when things don’t go Brown’s way.
Tomlin mildly chastised Brown for a brief sideline eruption during last Sunday’s 26-9 victory over Baltimore.
Brown took his frustrations out on a water cooler after quarterback Ben Roethlisberger failed to see Brown running free down the sideline in the second quarter. Roethlisberger instead threw an incomplete pass intended for Le’Veon Bell.
Tomlin didn’t see Brown’s initial outburst and while he gets Brown’s anger, he’d prefer Brown find more productive ways to work through it.
“AB is a competitor,” Tomlin said Tuesday. “He has to control it. If he doesn’t it can work against him and it can work against us. .. It doesn’t need to happen. It shouldn’t happen.”
Brown finished with a season-low four receptions for 34 yards and ranks second in the NFL in both catches (30) and yards receiving (388) through four games for the first-place Steelers (3-1), putting him well on pace to eclipse 100 receptions for a fifth straight season.
Brown’s work ethic helps set him apart, but on a roster that features several receivers in the early stages of their respective careers, Tomlin doesn’t want Brown setting the wrong kind of example.
“We all make mistakes, he made a mistake,” Tomlin said. “There’s also a lesson to be learned and a lesson to be taught.”
The Steelers signed Brown to a contract in the offseason that made him the highest-paid receiver in the league, with an average value of $18 million.
Yet he’s no stranger to drawing unwanted attention. He received a strong rebuke from Tomlin in January when he livestreamed scenes from a raucous locker room celebration after Pittsburgh edged Kansas City in the divisional round of the playoffs.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger hinted last week he may be relying too heavily on Brown at times, at the expense of getting rookie Juju Smith-Schuster and Martavis Bryant involved.
Brown shrugged his shoulders last Friday when asked if he was concerned about being featured too much, saying repeatedly he’s “always open for business.”
Brown has easily been Pittsburgh’s most consistent threat during a somewhat slow start for one of the NFL’s most talented offenses, though there were signs of significant life against the Ravens.
Running back Le’Veon Bell gained a season-high 186 total yards and Smith-Schuster scored his second touchdown in three weeks.
Bryant’s progress remains a bit slowed as he returns from a year-long suspension. Roethlisberger has narrowly missed connecting with Bryant on deep throws in each of the past two weeks, though Tomlin isn’t concerned about Bryant pressing.
“He’s not pretending that he’s not (rusty) and I think that’s been helpful,” Tomlin said. “He’s done a great job communicating.”