Porterville Recorder

Patriots’ Brown practices, status for Sunday’s game unclear

- By KYLE HIGHTOWER AP Sports Writer

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Patriots receiver Antonio Brown practiced with the team for the first time on Wednesday, a day after his former trainer filed a civil lawsuit in Florida accusing him of sexually assaulting her on three occasions.

Before the practice session, coach Bill Belichick declined to answer numerous questions about Brown, including his status for Sunday’s game at Miami. He deferred to the Patriots’ statement late Tuesday in which they said they were aware of the lawsuit and “take these allegation­s very seriously.”

“Antonio and his representa­tives have made statements, so I’m not going to be expanding on any of those,” Belichick said. “They are what they are. We’ve looked into the situation. We’re taking it very seriously all the way through the organizati­on. I’m sure there are questions, but I’m not going to enter into the discussion about that.”

Brown has denied the allegation­s. Darren Heitner, a lawyer representi­ng Brown, told The Associated Press his client plans to countersue. The NFL has declined to comment but will be opening an investigat­ion into the matter.

Belichick was asked specifical­ly about the possibilit­y of Brown being placed on the commission­er’s exempt list by Roger Goodell. That special designatio­n, which is used at the discretion of Goodell to allow the league to conduct investigat­ions into possible violations of the league’s personal conduct policy, would prevent Brown from practicing or attending games while on the list.

Brown would, however, be eligible to continue being paid on the oneyear deal he signed Monday with the Patriots that could pay him $15 million this season.

“We’re preparing for one day at a time,” Belichick said.

In the less than fiveminute portion of practice open to the media, Brown wore a No. 1 jersey and a visor with his helmet while going through warmup drills with teammates. Brown has worn No. 84 throughout his previous nine NFL seasons, but that number is currently being worn by Patriots tight end Ben Watson.

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