Antonio Brown’s status with the NFL may still be in limbo, following accusations of sexual assault in a civil lawsuit filed this week by his college friend and trainer.

But the Miami Dolphins are preparing for Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots with the expectation Brown will make his debut with his new team at Hard Rock Stadium.

“We’re preparing for everyone,” Dolphins Coach Brian Flores said Thursday. “[Brown’s] as dynamic as they get from a receiver standpoint. But they’ve got a lot of good players there. We’ve got a big task ahead of us.”

Brown, through his agent Drew Rosenhaus and lawyer Darren Heitner, has denied the allegations against him, saying his relationship with his accuser Britney Taylor was both consensual and personal. Brown practice with the Patriots again on Thursday, following his first practice with the team on Wednesday.

Patriots Coach Bill Belichick did not say whether Brown, who signed with New England on Monday after his release from the Oakland Raiders last week, would play against the Dolphins.

“On Antonio’s situation, both Antonio and his representatives have made statements, so I’m not going to be expanding on any of them. They are what they are. We’ve looked into the situation. We’re taking it very seriously all the way through the organization,” Belichick said Wednesday.

When asked directly about the possibility of Brown playing Sunday, Belichick said, “We’re taking it one day at a time, just like we always do.”

The Dolphins and safety Bobby McCain are preparing for a barrage, whether it involves Brown or not, especially after a 59-10 shellacking top open the season against the Ravens.

“This week, hey, it’s an air attack, an air raid, and that’s what they like,” McCain said. “They like to run the football as well but like I said, they have arguably one of the best quarterbacks of all time and so the ball’s going to go up in the air. I can guarantee that.”

McCain is in a new role deep center field, although against the Ravens he was seen on tape cheating up as some balls flew over his head. It’s something Brady and Patriots coach Bill Belichick certainly saw in film study.

“I’m just trying to do my job, man,” McCain said. “We’ve got a lot of things going on. We’ve got a lot of moving parts.”

Nothing the coaches – including Flores, in his first year after coming over from New England in the offseason – can do will matter unless players buy into the system. McCain said players still have “100 percent” confidence the system will work even if the first 60 minutes were ugly enough for plenty of blame to go around.

“We tried our best to put guys in the right spots,” defensive coordinator Patrick Graham said. “I could’ve coached better. There’s no question about that.”

Defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick blamed the issues on “guys not locked in, looking at the wrong things. Sometimes we weren’t put in the best position, but even still, it’s up to the players to make the plays.”

ANTONIO BROWN took part in the Patriots’ non-padded practice Thursday, but not with the No, 1 jersey he wore for his first practice on Wednesday.

Brown wore No. 17 for Thursday’s session. Per league rules, wide receivers must wear numbers between 10-19 or 80-89.

Brown previously wore No. 84 with the Steelers and Raiders, but suspended tight end Ben Watson owns No. 84 in New England. No NFL player is permitted to change his jersey number midseason. Once Brown wears No. 17 – or any other number for that matter – during game action, that will be his number for the remainder of the season.

SO HOW has Antonio Brown looked at practice?

“Competitive, smart. He can do it all,” said cornerback Stephon Gilmore on Thursday. “I’m happy to have him on our team.”

“Like a lot of new players it’s about getting up to speed and so forth. There’s a lot to learn,” said quarterback Brady. “Coming in this time of year is challenging but that’s just the situation. It happens a lot around the NFL. That’s happened over the years so we’re just trying to do the best we can do.”

Brown will join a talented wide receiver corps that features Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon and Phillip Dorsett. They say there is only one ingredient that Brown must embrace. “It’s tough,” Dorsett said, “but at the end of the day it all depends on how hard you work and how hard you study.”

 

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