WR confidential: Why Antonio Brown keeps his tendencies 'top secret'

PITTSBURGH -- One of Steelers receiver Antonio Brown's favorite phrases during his interview sessions is "top secret," which he started using last season to perpetuate the mystery behind a "Ronald Ocean" nickname.

But the phrase is starting to reveal a bit of Brown's receiver paranoia, providing a glimpse into what makes him productive.

He's not about to share the nuances that help get him open. Especially not during Bengals week.

"Can’t tell you," Brown said. "I tell you, then you guys report it and every guy will be caught up with it. I’ve got to keep some things top secret. Hopefully you guys can catch on to it 10 years from now.”

Brown has been known to share a few secrets with certain peers, most notably Odell Beckham Jr. They trade highlight tapes in the offseason.

But though Brown's ability to find open space might look easy, the work takes place throughout the year. Many playmakers begin to decline as they approach 30, but the 29-year-old Brown is having one of his best seasons. He leads the NFL with 700 receiving yards, nearly 200 more than Tyreek Hill, who is in the No. 2 spot with 515 yards. Brown is on pace for a season of 128 catches for 1,867 yards on a career-high 197 targets.

When asked if he's playing the best football of his career, Brown said thinking about that is not his job.

"When the chips all stack together, we’ll see what happens," Brown said.

The Bengals have experienced modest success against Brown, who's averaging 70 yards per game in his last five games against Cincinnati. He has one touchdown during that span. The Bengals dedicate many resources to stopping Brown, including a safety for downfield coverage help.

But Brown -- who famously suffered a concussion from a helmet shot by Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict in the 2016 playoffs -- said he's not concerned with matters "outside the game" and won't be baited by the Bengals' defenders.

He's more concerned with reacting to the coverages he sees in-game.

"That’s what we get paid to do. We’re football players. We’ve got to do our job, simple as that," Brown said. "We still haven’t put our best performance out there. Each week, we will continue to get better."