AP Photo/Jennifer Stewart
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced Thursday they signed veteran wide receiver John Brown to their practice squad.
Brown’s arrival comes at a time when the Bucs’ wide receiver room is in a state of flux due to injuries and other issues.
No. 1 wideout Chris Godwin is out for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL, while Antonio Brown was released after he left the field in the midst of Tampa’s 28-24 win over the New York Jets in Week 17.
As a result, quarterback Tom Brady will be forced to lean heavily on Mike Evans in the Bucs’ NFC Wild Card Round clash with the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.
Aside from Evans—who is nursing a hamstring issue but is expected to play—and tight end Rob Gronkowski, Brady will look to get some big plays out of a host of unheralded wideouts, such as Tyler Johnson, Breshad Perriman, Scotty Miller, Cyril Grayson Jr. and Jaelon Darden as well.
In Brown, the Bucs gain a solid insurance policy should additional experience be needed at the receiver spot during Tampa’s playoff run.
The 31-year-old is an eighth-year veteran who has appeared in games for the Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Denver Broncos and Jacksonville Jaguars.
Brown did not have a reception in four games split between the Broncos and Jaguars this season, but he was productive in two previous years with the Bills.
“Smoke” enjoyed arguably the best year of his career in 2019 as quarterback Josh Allen’s top target, finishing with 72 grabs for 1,060 yards and six touchdowns.
He missed seven games because of injury last season but still managed 33 catches for 458 yards and three scores in nine games.
Brown, who was a third-round pick of the Cardinals out of Pittsburg State in 2014, had a 1,000-yard season early in his career as well, racking up 65 receptions for 1,003 yards and a career-high seven touchdowns with the Cards in 2015.
All told, the speedster has 320 receptions for 4,748 yards and 31 touchdowns in 100 career games.
While Brown may not be a game-changing player, he is a reliable veteran who could come in handy for a Bucs team that is chasing a Super Bowl repeat.