FOXBORO, Mass. — New England Patriots receivers coach Joe Judge had nothing but nice things to say Friday morning about his most controversial pupil.
Speaking ahead of Sunday’s matchup with the New York Jets, Judge praised Antonio Brown for the work ethic and attentiveness he’s displayed during his first 12 days with the team, calling the seven-time Pro Bowler “a pleasure to work with.”
“I think any player that comes here, especially early in the season after missing spring and training camp, has a great deal of catching up to do,” Judge said. “He’s done a tremendous job. Anything we ask him to do, he works very hard on. He does a lot of work away from the building, studies up, comes in fresh and prepared the next day. He’s been a pleasure to work with.”
Judge added: “He’s great. He’s a football guy all the way. When you’re talking ball and you’re with him, he loves it. He’s very engaged. He’s very energetic. He brings a great new perspective to a lot of things we’ve done from his experience elsewhere, and he’s been fun to work with and learn from.”
Brown is immensely talented and showed great potential last week in his Patriots debut (four catches, 56 yards, one touchdown in a 43-0 win over the Miami Dolphins), but he’s operated under a cloud of off-field controversy since signing with New England last week.
The 31-year-old is facing multiple allegations of sexual assault and sexual misconduct, including a civil lawsuit his former trainer filed against him last Tuesday. On Thursday, the attorneys for a different accuser sought NFL intervention after their client allegedly received “intimidating” texts from Brown.
Judge, who also coaches New England’s special teams, was asked whether these allegations have made working with Brown difficult.
“My job is to get every player on this team prepared in all their roles on the offense and the kicking game to play on Sunday, and he’s been preparing as hard as he can football-wise,” Judge replied. “And with his engagement, it’s been easy to get him ready.”
Asked a similar question later in his media session, Judge deferred to Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
“I think that’s a better question for Coach Belichick,” he said. “I appreciate the question, and I understand where you’re coming from with it. I think as a position coach, an assistant coach and a coordinator, my job is to focus more on the football and get everybody ready to play.”
Belichick, who took the podium minutes after his assistants completed their media obligations, declined to answer questions about the allegations against Brown.
“I know there are questions about Antonio,” Belichick said. “We take all the situations with our team very seriously. And there are some things we’re looking into. I’m not going to comment on any of the off-the-field situations if there are questions on that. Anything on football, I’d be happy to answer.”
After seven consecutive questions about Brown, Belichick abruptly ended his news conference.
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