A good deal of the leadup to Raiders training camp surrounded All Pro receiver Antonio Brown. He even took a hot air balloon ride the morning of report day to ring in the big day. Then all the fanfare fell like a lead balloon when he landed on the non-football injury list to begin camp.
Yeah, he pass his physical and suited up on day two of camp, but he didn’t see the field much. He ran some routes prior to warm-ups and left the field. Then on day three — the first day in pads — he was back to the sideline, making his active designation not worth much.
Come day four, he was in uniform, with pads, taking the field with his teammates. This time, he made it through warm-ups and participated in one-on-one drills afterward.
It was like he never left.
Just like OTA’s and minicamp, Brown torched nearly every DB he faced.
First it was rookie second round pick Trayvon Mullen who was abused. Then it was starting cornerback Gareon Conley who couldn’t stop Brown from getting his. Both were bombs for long touchdowns.
The only DB who was able to make a play on him was Lamarcus Joyner. The nickel corner was able to get hands on Brown up the right sideline and disrupt the pass his way to break it up. He celebrated with flexes and trash talking. Brown trotted back toward him and the two slapped hands with respect for each others’ game.
Those who Brown beats respect him just the same. Getting burnt isn’t fun, but those experiences get you an education.
“Yeah, of course it’s going to make me better,” said Conley. “I mean, he was brought here because he is a great receiver. Every time I get a chance to go I’m going to try to go against him and always ask him questions about when he breaks, what he’s doing at the line, down the field, how he plays against (cornerbacks). It’s going to make me better.”
Mullen is quite familiar with Brown. The two spoke quite a bit while Mullen was at Clemson and even trained together. Facing one of the best in the NFL no doubt helped get Mullen to this point and he hopes he will continue to benefit from facing him in practice.
“Well for me, quite frankly, he’s getting me better. Like I said I’m going against the best and each rep I know he’s going to bring his best. So it’s going to do nothing but get me better. . . He always said like, told me mentally you got to be focused. You got to come in with a good mindset and just win the day.”
Mullen didn’t win this day. And, let’s be honest, he probably won’t win many days against Brown. But it’s good to have goals.
Brown’s days of camp practice should only get longer from here on out. Up to this point he’s spent more time playing football on the side with his kids than he’s spent on the field with his teammates. That should change in the coming days.
“He’s getting close and hopefully after the day off tomorrow he will get closer,” said Gruden. “but we need him on the grass. We need him to get going and he’s chomping at the bit. He’s not a real patient guy and hopefully it’ll be sooner than later.”
We’d all like to see that.
Catch of the day
I think I’m going to have to start calling this section the non-AB catch of the day. Because whenever he’s on the field, this section will pretty much belong to him. Both his aforementioned touchdown bombs were things of beauty. He also had a ridiculous catch before that with no defenders that he tracked over his shoulder and caught like it was routine.
Defensive play of the day
That Joyner pass breakup for AB probably takes this honor. Other pass breakups came from Gareon Conley on a pass from Nathan Peterman for Marcell Ateman and Te’Von Coney who stayed with tight end Luke Willson to break up a pass in the flat.
Football program assistance
Players from five Bay Area schools were on hand to accept a check for $25K from the Raiders and Dick’s Sporting Goods as part of the Dick’s Sports Matter Program. The schools were Oakland High, Skyline High, Madison Park Academy, Castlemont, and Monte Vista. Each school receives $5,000 for their football program.
Ronald Ollie was injured on day two of camp. Now he’s cut. The Last Chance U star was replaced by veteran Ethan Westbrooks. Gruden explained his reasoning behind the move.
“Well, I haven’t seen Ollie do anything. We need to get something done here. We are in the business of getting better. Ollie didn’t participate much, when he did, unfortunately, we chose to go another direction and Westbrooks has a history in this league. He’s got versatility, he can play end or defensive tackle and he knows how to rush the passer. So, we’re trying to get better and we are not just starting at the top of the roster. Every man and me included.”
Also out was Erik Swoope who hadn’t distinguished himself in a group of tight ends. That leaves the roster with an open spot.
NFI: Keith Smith (knee), PUP: Denzelle Good (back). Quinton Bell is still out. Gruden said his injury wasn’t as bad as they feared and he should be back by next week. Trayvon Mullen returned after missing a day with a wrist issue. Gabe Wright left practice with an injury of unknown severity. Marquel Lee went down injured in practice and came up clutching his left hamstring. We’ll see if he’s back full after the day off.