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NFL World Reacts To Thursday's Antonio Brown News

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown against the Panthers.

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - NOVEMBER 15: Antonio Brown #81 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers warms up prior to their game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on November 15, 2020 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown returned to action this past weekend against the Carolina Panthers after missing the previous eight games with an ankle injury and a league-sanctioned suspension.

He didn't skip a beat when he stepped on the field last Sunday, hauling in 10 catches for a game-high 101 yards. Unfortunately, that performance may have come at a cost.

#Bucs WR Antonio Brown downgraded to did not participate Thursday with an ankle injury. Rakeem Nunez-Roches was activated from the COVID-19 list. Antoine Winfield Jr. was limited in practice Thursday.

— Rick Stroud (@NFLSTROUD) December 30, 2021

">According to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, Brown did not practice on Thursday due to an ankle injury. The Buccaneers downgraded him from Wednesday, where he participated in the Buccaneers workout in a limited capacity. Now, Brown has seemingly taken a step backwards with a Week 17 game against the New York Jets just three days away.

It's certainly possible that Brown's non-participant status on Thursday is the result of injury management, but the biggest fear for the Buccaneers would be that 33-year-old suffered a setback.

At this point of the year, most of the NFL world has recognized how important Brown is to the success of the Bucs offense. Many fans and media members were shocked to see the wideout not practice on Thursday and prepared to monitor his status for the remainder of the week.

Brown's availability is doubly important because the Buccaneers are already without Chris Godwin, who suffered a season-ending ACL tear. Veteran Mike Evans has also been battling a hamstring injury and a stint on the reserve/COVID-19 leaving Tampa Bay with a lot of questions about their receivers group with the playoffs right around the corner.

First, the Buccaneers will need to get through the 4-11 Jets this Sunday. Time will tell if Brown is available by kickoff.