Rams safety Eric Weddle is preparing to play against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and a receiver corps that includes the talented Mike Evans.
But on Thursday, before the Rams began practice, Weddle was going one-on-one with unemployed NFL receiver Antonio Brown on Twitter.
The exchanges quickly circulated among players, fans, reporters and league observers.
“I’m just worried about Tampa, so I don’t really know what’s got everyone in a ruckus about,” Weddle joked after practice Thursday as a crowd of reporters descended on his locker.
The Pittsburgh Steelers traded Brown, a seven-time Pro Bowl selection, to the Oakland Raiders in March. But Brown was released before the season opener. He was signed by the New England Patriots and played in one game, but was released amid accusations of sexual assault.
Thursday’s social media dust-up between Brown and Weddle began after Brown posted a tweet that said, “The game need me I’m like test answers.”
The game need me I’m like test answers— AB (@AB84) September 26, 2019
New York Giants receiver Golden Tate responded “What???” and Weddle added, “Def don’t.”
To which Brown replied to Weddle: “U need some attention lil man glad I put that stuff arm in your neck in pittsburgh u deserved it Lil Weedle.”
More back and forth ensued. At one point, Brown told Weddle “shut up Jabroni.” He also posted photos of himself stiff-arming Weddle, and getting the ball across the goal line with Weddle trying to stop him, below a tweet that read, “Some things will never change.”
When the Rams took the field for practice, teammates and coaches joked with Weddle. Coach Sean McVay came over to where the defensive backs gathered for a drill and got the lowdown amid chuckles.
“It’s in the past,” Weddle said. “I mean, I said what I said, he said what he said … It’s not worth talking about it because he’s not my teammate.
“He doesn’t play in the league, so there’s really no point.”
The Twitter brawl did not lessen Weddle’s regard for Brown’s talent on the field.
“He’s one of the best to ever do it,” Weddle said. “So I would hope no one would ever think anything other than what I’ve said to him over the past of how he’s played and what a matchup he is ...
“There’s nothing like that that I’ve ever said otherwise. He’s one of the best to ever do it at the receiver position.”
Gurley: no complaints
Star running back Todd Gurley is getting fewer touches than he did during the past two seasons, and the Rams’ offense has thus far not found a consistent rhythm.
A day after McVay said “you want to get Todd Gurley involved as much as possible,” Gurley was asked what might be the issue.
“We’re 3-0, that’s all I know,” Gurley said.
Gurley has rushed for 203 yards and a touchdown in 44 carries. He has four receptions for eight yards.
The Rams are giving up 285.7 yards per game, which ranks third in the NFL, and 16.3 points, which ranks seventh. Their victory over the Cleveland Browns last Sunday came courtesy of a final defensive stand.
“My favorite part of the game, certainly, after the fact,” defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said.
The Rams stopped the Browns on four plays from the four-yard line. Three passes fell incomplete and safety John Johnson intercepted a pass to seal the 20-13 victory that improved the Rams’ record to 3-0.
“I just think you find out about your team in those ways,” Phillips said. “I thought last year’s team played great under pressure. Said that all year — the stats weren’t as good but under pressure I thought they played real well.
“This team, there couldn’t have been any more pressure than those four plays.”
Tight end Tyler Higbee (bruised lung) and offensive lineman Austin Blythe (ankle) practiced and both are “on pace” to play against the Buccaneers, McVay said. Defensive lineman Michael Brockers did not practice because of illness, McVay said. ... Buccaneers receiver Chris Godwin did not practice because of a hip injury, according to the injury report.