The Pittsburgh Steelers must look at the big picture.
In the short term, they’d understandably love to have their No. 1 wideout, Antonio Brown, suit up against the Kansas City Chiefs next week. The reward of playing him, though, isn’t nearly worth the risk.
Mike Garafolo of the USA Today reported that, after Brown exited Sunday’s game vs. the New York Giants with an ankle injury and failed to return, he’s expected to reenter the starting lineup against KC.
Antonio Brown said high ankle sprain but back next week. That doesn't add up but whatever.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) November 5, 2012
Hopefully for the Steelers’ sake, though, Garafolo’s sources are wrong. Like he said, high ankle sprains usually force players to miss time—more time than a couple quarters.
But even if Brown is capable of producing with an injured ankle, Pittsburgh must keep him on the sideline. They simply don’t need him to defeat the Chiefs.
Kansas City is one of the worst teams in the NFL. It is 1-7, averages a pitiful 16.6 points per game and surrenders 30.0.
While Ben Roethlisberger throws to Brown more than any other Steelers receiver, he isn’t so vital to their attack that they’d choke against the Chiefs as a result of his absence. Jerricho Cotchery proved he's still a capable rotational wideout as he reeled in four receptions for 50 yards in New York.
Pittsburgh should allow Brown's ankle to heal up so he’s 100 percent in Week 11 against the Baltimore Ravens—a team that they could actually need Brown to beat.
And back to the rarity of returning so quickly with a high ankle sprain. After such little recovery time, re-injuring his ankle becomes a huge risk if Brown plays in Week 10. And with games against the Ravens (two), San Diego Chargers and Dallas Cowboys on the horizon, the Steelers can’t afford to miss him for a lengthened period time.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.