Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich has seen plenty of receiver skillsets in his day. He hasn’t seen many like the one possessed by Antonio Brown.
“I remember first meeting him, and before he even got drafted [by the Steelers I told] him he can have the opportunity to be the best in the world,” Leftwich told reporters on Thursday. “He laughed at me just because of who we were working out with. I was throwing to a bunch of different wide receivers that were already Pro Bowlers [and] that were established in this league. Here, this little kid comes in working out three times a day [and] running fast and catching everything. The things that he can do from a skillset standpoint was unique, and I remember telling him that a long, long time ago. He laughed at me and he thought I was crazy. He just has that sort of skillset — he really does have that sort of skillset. I think it’s going to match well with what we’ve got here, the guys we’ve got here [and] the special guys that we already have here. I think it should match well.”
The Buccaneers have a tall receiver in Mike Evans, but Brown plays that way, in Leftwich’s estimation.
“He’s not a tall guy, but he can make big-man plays,” Leftwich said regarding Brown. “I think Mike and Chris [Godwin] — I see these guys every day and it’s hard to get better than what these guys do on a daily basis. We’ve got some guys that can really make plays [and] we’ve got guys that are really good and work at it. All three of these guys really work at it. It’s going to be some of our hardest workers with Mike, Chris, A.B., Scotty [Miller], Gronk. We all work hard, and we’ll continue to just keep doing that.”
Leftwich, who played for the Steelers when Brown was drafted in 2010, had a nickname for Brown from the get go.
“I used to call him ‘110’ because he had 110 catches out of the MAC way before he got drafted,” Leftwich said. “It’s good to see that he’s at where he’s at. Me and him have always been good. He and Emmanuel [Sanders] were my wide receivers in the huddle in Pittsburgh, so it was a lot of work put in with him and Emmanuel back in the day. It’s good to see him here [and] it’s good to see his smile. He’s always in shape [and] he’s always loved the game of football.”
Brown’s fitness and passion have never been an issue. Other things have derailed his career over the last couple of years. He’ll need to show that those things are behind him to have a chance to stick around in Tampa.