McDaniels on pressure to involve Antonio Brown: Patriots don't 'force' the ball to anyone

Phil Perry
NBC Sports Boston

FOXBORO -- The Patriots have just imported one of the game's best talents into their offensive meeting room in Antonio Brown. He's also proven to be a migraine headache to coaching staffs in Pittsburgh and Oakland.

Concerns about his ability to create significant strife in the Patriots locker room seem exaggerated. There are strong personalities who stand as pillars for the culture Bill Belichick has worked to establish in New England, with Tom Brady, Julian Edelman, Matthew Slater, James White, Devin McCourty, Dont'a Hightower being among them. It's a long list.

But Brown has not been shy about bothering his coaches over the years. 

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It was well-documented on HBO's "Hard Knocks" and on Brown's on social-media accounts that frustration reigned in Raiders offices when it came to Brown's unwillingness to play for the team. According to multiple reports out of Pittsburgh -- some which have only surfaced recently due to how his time in Oakland ended -- Brown hasn't been afraid to voice his displeasure with coaches ever since he signed his first contract extension with the Steelers in 2012.

In 2013, he reportedly confronted Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley about what he deemed to be a lack of targets. 

"Being a hungry playmaker on the team, I did what any good player around should do," Brown said at the time. "You talk to the person who controls the scheme of the game and see what he can do to get you involved, or see what you can do to get things going . . . I didn't think it was a big issue. We just have to find a way to win. I guess this is what happens when you lose."

In 2015, Steelers tight end Heath Miller asked Brown to stop complaining about a lack of targets. In 2017, Brown lit up a Gatorade cooler after Ben Roethlisberger didn't look in his direction when he was open for a big gain. Early last season, Brown got into it with offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner on the sidelines after having fallen behind the Chiefs.

Now the Patriots will try to figure out how to best acclimate Brown to their system while avoiding similar incidents.

Asked if there was any pressure on his part as Patriots play-caller to get Brown involved early on despite the lack of practice time he's had with the team, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said that wasn't an issue as far as he was concerned. 

"No. The goal for us is always the same," McDaniels said. "Have a really good week of preparation. Try to make sure our guys know what our plan is, and we've prepared them as best we can for the opponent. Then go out there and take care of the football and score as many points as we can playing complementary football. 

"We have a lot of good football players on our team. A lot of guys that have roles that they can perform well. We gotta go out there and put our guys in good positions, hopefully with a really good week of practice. We'll see how it goes as we go forward. 

"Certainly we've always had the same concept in terms of our run game, pass game, our offense in general. We're gonna try to throw it when we're supposed to throw it. We really, we don't try to force the ball anywhere or to anybody. Because that's not necessarily the way we do it."

How Brown comes to terms with that philosophy could dictate how well -- and how long -- he enjoys being part of the Patriots roster.

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McDaniels on pressure to involve Antonio Brown: Patriots don't 'force' the ball to anyone originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

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