Buccaneers receiver Antonio Brown exited Sunday’s playoff game with an injury. At last word, Brown was getting an MRI on his knee.
In his absence, a couple of other receivers stepped up: Scotty Miller, who saw his playing time plummet after Brown joined the team, and rookie Tyler Johnson (pictured). Both players had key catches in the fourth-quarter drive that resulted in the Buccaneers taking a 23-20 lead. Johnson made an athletic, lunging catch of a low-and-outside pass on third and 11, securing a first down. Three plays later, Miller caught a 29-yard pass on third and five.
“[Tom Brady] sees those guys work so hard on the practice field and he’s got a great rapport with all of them, especially Scotty,” coach Bruce Arians told reporters on Monday. “Tyler, very few guys can twist and turn and make that catch. Tom put it out there and he knew Tyler could make that catch. He’s got a great, great future.”
Johnson surely does. Caught in a logjam behind the likes of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Brown, and Miller, Johnson has had a hard time earning reps. By next year, Johnson could get plenty more.
Sunday’s catch will set Johnson up for more opportunities, sooner than later. If Brown can’t play on Sunday, those opportunities could come sooner than sooner.