This week’s OTAs were a chance for the whole team to work together and work with the coaches prior to July’s training camp, and a chance for media and fans to get a good look at many of the new Raiders acquisitions. Perhaps the most impactful of the new Raiders will be wide receiver Antonio Brown, and he was mic’d up during practice this week.
The video starts off by showing Brown working through the press coverage of a coach and running down the sideline to catch a deep pass. He then catches several slant passes, and it’s clear he’s fluid and explosive with his routes, running them with ferocity.
Rookie wide receiver Brian Burt comes up to Brown and says, “I’m going to be a problem in this league.” It’s good to see confidence from Burt, who may end up as a camp body, but Brown responds, “I’m already a problem. I’m the answer looking for a problem. I’m the answer in this league.” It’s hard to argue with him, seeing the dominance he displays on the practice field and in games.
After a sideline tiptoe catch, Brown checks with the official to see if he was in, and is assured that he was. Brown then runs a double move route, and Derek Carr throws him the ball before Brown makes his final break for a completion. That’s a timing route and the two already appear to be on the same page.
Brown then utterly toasts the Raiders defensive backs on a go route. They are fast but he appears to be much faster. He celebrates in the end zone. He then commisserates with Carr and says, “Every time, big brother. Go get it.” Carr is younger than Brown, but is still the ‘big brother’ here, apparently. Brown looks to have a genuine affection for Carr that I don’t think he ever had with his previous quarterback.
Lamarcus Joyner and Brown then share a moment laughing and marveling about Carr’s scrambling ability, as if they’re mystified at how well he moves around. Brown destroys the defensive coverage yet again and exults in the end zone, spinning the ball on the ground. Brown then catches a slant pass in heavy traffic. He talks with Carr, and the two discuss how it’s ‘starting to gel’ and how much fun this all is. Brown says “I love you, Brodie,” which is not something I can imagine Amari Cooper ever uttering.
More fun is had by Brown, as he dances along with the hip-hop music being played, and then gets serious as he demonstrates to the young Raiders players how to properly perform a front squat. He then shows off his well-defined quad muscles, which ostensibly were cultivated through use of said squats. He says they are low impact and will make you explosive.
Brown then tells Gruden that he thinks he ran his routes effectively. Gruden responds, “I think you killed it today.” The only thing Brown didn’t kill in this practice was my hype for the upcoming season, which is now at maximum.
The Raiders’ top receiver seems like a guy who is genuinely excited to be a Raider and is enjoying working with Gruden and Carr. He also seems like the clear best player on the field at all times, and the hardest worker to boot. Jerry Rice is arguably the greatest player of all time, but he was never the biggest or strongest receiver in the league. He was, however, the hardest worker and the most competitive guy, and that’s why he was able to have sustained success well into an age group where no other players have ever had success as a receiver. Brown seems to fit that mold as an obsessive worker and if he and Carr are already clicking like this, they should be a well-oiled machine come the regular season.