Pittsburgh — Steelers linebacker Bud Dupree just smiled earlier this month when asked what would happen if the “Hard Knocks” cameras decided to spend a month embedded with the team during training camp.
“We’re too real for TV,” Dupree said with a grin.
Dupree meant it as a joke. Two weeks later, nobody is laughing.
The Steelers (0-1-1) are winless heading into next Monday’s visit to Tampa Bay and the distractions they stressed the importance of avoiding in 2018 only seem to be multiplying.
The latest arrived in the aftermath of a loss to Kansas City when All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown (Central Michigan) opted to skip work on Monday, though he did find the time to hop on Twitter and respond to criticism by a former team employee who believes Brown should be thankful that he plays alongside quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
No one took Brown’s suggestion of “trade me let’s find out “ seriously. Coach Mike Tomlin’s bigger concern was Brown’s absence from a mandatory day of meetings, a misstep that led to a sit-down between the two.
“I’ll leave the nature of that conversation between us,” Tomlin said Wednesday. “There was discipline involved for his missed meeting for Monday. Some of the other things we talked about extensively, he’ll speak for himself in some of those things. Really our focus is preparing to win this game on Monday night.”
Tomlin did not outline Brown’s punishment. The only player in NFL history with five consecutive seasons of at least 100 receptions practiced alongside his teammates Wednesday and there appears to be no plans to have him sit when the Steelers play the Buccaneers (2-0).
Asked if he expects Brown to face Tampa Bay, center Maurkice Pouncey responded “100 percent” and insisted there would be no blowback in the locker room for another in an increasing line of highly visible missteps.
“People don’t know the things he has going on in his life, he’s totally fine,” Pouncey said. “He talked to the people he needed to talk to and confirmed why he wasn’t here and we move on as a team and that’s totally fine.”
Pouncey’s remarks came two weeks after he and the rest of the offensive line vented about running back Le’Veon Bell’s decision to stay away from the team rather than sign his one-year franchise tender and two months after Pouncey opened training camp by saying “I know it’s all fun and games for everybody at the beginning but man it’s time to win.”
And yet here the Steelers are, tied with Cleveland for last place in the AFC North while Bell (Michigan State) jet skis in Florida and Brown flouts team rules. Roethlisberger did his best to downplay any sense of the off-the-field issues swallowing the team whole.
“I mean any team, any sport is going to have some kind of distractions throughout the year,” Roethlisberger said. “I think that’s what makes you professional. How can you respond and recover from it.”
Bills running back LeSean McCoy said allegations that he abused his 6-year-old son were “ridiculous” and being made by people attempting to further their own agendas.
“These people honestly have so much to gain by doing this,” McCoy said after practice Wednesday. “But I’m not going to sit here and spend too much time even talking about it. It’s crazy. It’s ridiculous.
“Everything I do is for my little man, my son. And If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t be fighting for custody of my boy.”
McCoy’s comments came a day after he was called “a monster” by his son’s mother in a three-page document filed in Fulton County State Court in Georgia. Stephanie Maisonet alleged her son would often return home crying and with bruises after visiting with his father, allegations he denied.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (left knee) said he remained a “little sore” following the 29-29 tie against the Vikings.
... Broncos quarterback Case Keenum said he’ll be back Thursday after missing Wednesday’s workout because of a sore knee.
... Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota said weakness and numbness remains in his injured right hand.
... Browns top receiver Jarvis Landry (knee) is questionable for tonight’s game.
... The Eagles signed wide receiver Jordan Matthews.
... Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (calf) missed practice.