NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Sunday on GameDay Morning that the team is more optimistic about Brown's calf strain.
"The Steelers expected him to be 100 percent by the time they take the field in the playoffs whether or not that is the first round or whether or not they get a bye," Rapoport said. "This is an injury -- it's actually a calf strain despite being described as a partially torn calf muscle -- really the same thing Mike Tomlin has called it -- a calf bruise. This was described to me as a minor injury. One that actually has led Brown to tell people he could play in Week 17, if they needed him. They don't; he won't play. But that gives you an idea about how minor this is. They believe when he takes the field -- whenever that is next -- he'll be back to himself."
The Steelers face the Texans on Christmas afternoon and close out the season against the Browns. Ending the season with back-to-back wins to earn a bye would make the parsing of Brown's timeline moot. But knowing the game's best receiver will be full-go when he does get back on the field is a sigh of relieve for the Steelers and their fans.