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How Antonio Brown looks after more than a year away from football, per Buccaneers coach

Antonio Brown, Bruce Arians, Buccaneers

Antonio Brown hasn’t played a game of pro football since Week 2 of the 2019 season. By the time he takes the field for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Nov. 8—in Week 9, after his suspension is lifted—it will mark nearly 14 months since he last laced up the cleats.

Despite the long layoff, Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians had positive reviews after the 32-year-old’s first day with the Bucs.

“He looks fantastic. I think we had really good conversations today, he and I,” Arians said on Wednesday, via ESPN’s Jenna Laine. “He was in the meetings and everything. And he’s working with Anthony Piroli and the strength staff. He looks in great shape. Yeah, ready to go next week.”

Brown’s signing was officially announced on Tuesday, but he was forced to stay away from the club’s facilities until Wednesday due to the league’s COVID-19 protocol. the wideout was limited to sessions with the strength and conditioning staff and team meetings as a consequence of his eight-game suspension for multiple violations of the NFL’s personal conduct policy. (He is also facing two accusations of sexual misconduct from the past year, and he remains on probation for burglary with battery charges.)

“It went real well. He and I had a good conversation this morning,” Arians added about Brown. “He’ll be ready to go next week and in good shape.”

The Buccaneers may rely on Brown more than they expected in his first game back after star wideout Chris Godwin suffered a fractured thumb that may force him to miss the Week 9 game against the New Orleans Saints. Arians not-so-subtly expressed his confidence in Brown stepping into that role if need be.

Brown can start practicing with his new teammates after Tampa Bay’s Monday Night Football matchup with the New York Giants at the conclusion of Week 8.