GLENDALE, Ariz. – Antonio Brown is returning to Raiders practice, and he’s going to soon. The superstar receiver is expected to enter the mix before training camp breaks Monday, head coach Jon Gruden said, after running well and without discomfort in pregame warmups before Thursday’s 33-26 victory over the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium.
Brown looked good, running routes and changing directions at what seemed to be full speed. He caught a few passes from quarterback Derek Carr, leaving the Raiders encouraged that their best player is back after suffering frostbite on his feet.
“Hell yeah, it was encouraging,” Gruden said. “It was great to have him back. You know, it has been a strange couple of weeks with frostbite and his helmet grievance. I can’t say that it’s common, at least in my history in this league. He has weathered the storm, and it’s great to see him out there with his teammates.
“He appears to be in great spirits and appears like he’s ready to get going. That’s Antonio Brown. We’re excited about him. I’m excited about him and could care less what anyone else says, honestly.”
Brown wouldn’t set a return date, but him coming back this weekend seems the most likely course.
Brown has missed 12 of 13 training camp practices, but Carr said the pair picked up right where they left off.
“He’s such a good player, and we’ve spent so much time together that I knew when he came back, it’d be like he never left,” Carr said. “That’s our brother, and we’re just happy that he’s here so we can put our arms around him and move forward.”
Brown felt good after two sessions with Carr and his fellow receivers, and he’s checking all appropriate boxes for a complete return to action. He spent roughly 10 days away from training camp rehabbing frostbitten feet with a specialist in Florida. He returned Tuesday, at the end of that treatment, and came to the Cardinals game despite there being zero chance of him playing. He got good work in before the game, and he seems ready to go.
“My feet are healing in the right direction,” Brown said. “I’m just happy to be around my teammates, to get to work and be with the guys.”
GLENDALE, Ariz. – Antonio Brown has been subject to intense scrutiny in recent weeks, dealing with frostbitten feet and a lost helmet grievance that has gained national attention.
His absence from Raiders training camp while rehabbing his feet in Florida with a specialist was also called into some question by reports that he was gone more for the helmet than his feet, that he went radio silent with the Raiders and that he told them team that he’d retire over the helmet issue.
Brown refuted the retirement claim outright. Head coach Jon Gruden said the Raiders knew what Brown was up to while he was away.
Brown didn’t say much publicly during his time away, save a few cryptic social media posts. His impulse wasn’t to refute claims or add to fuel to the fire raging around him. He tried to let it lie.
The superstar receiver insists all the negative talk doesn’t impact him, but it gets to those in his inner circle.
“People always talk, and try to bring you down,” Brown said after the Raiders’ 33-26 preseason win over the Cardinals. “I just think it’s tough for the people who love me, that they have to hear it when they know the type of person I am and what I stand for.
“I hate it when my mom and my dad call me and say, ‘What the f–k? Retirement? Where’d he get that?’ I never said that. That’s the hardest part for me as an athlete.”
Brown tries to put the criticism in perspective, but admits it’s not always easy.
“You have to have tough skin and not pay attention to what people say,” Brown said. “Not everybody hates me. Maybe a small percentage do, but I like to focus on the big picture. If you guys could calm it down, man, that would really help my family. (laughter) Can you guys help me out with the stuff that goes out there? I don’t mind, but my family gets really stressed out.”
Brown considers himself misrepresented, but understands he can’t fight back without causing more issues.
“Absolutely I feel misunderstood, but I’m not trying to win people over or make people feel a certain way about me,” Brown said. “I’m an athlete. I’m a human being. I have tough skin, but treat me like a human. Treat me with respect. But, through it all, I have a strong heart. Ultimately [all the talk] doesn’t matter. Only the people in this locker room and the coaches and the guys who support me and know what’s real, they’re the ones that matter. I am committed to the cause for those guys.”
Brown is also committed to young fans like the young boy he met at State Farm Stadium. Brown signed some autographs after pre-game warmups, and a little boy, maybe five or six, started crying when Brown approached him. Brown gave the boy and his brother a hug, autographs and the gloves he wore to work out.
[RELATED: Brown should practice before camp ends]
It was a centering moment that reminded him of the positive aspects of all this attention, and that not everyone views him in a negative light. Brown was moved by the exchange, which you can see here.
— Oakland Raiders (@Raiders) August 16, 2019
“It absolutely impacts me,” Brown said. “It gives me courage and inspiration, knowing that kids are looking at everything I do. Everything I do affects someone. It makes me feel good, that I’m a good leader and a good example. No matter what people write about me or say about me, there are people that ready love me. To have that moment with the kid just makes my heart smile, makes my heart cry to know that, whatever I’m doing, is reaching and inspiring the youth. That’s my role. It’s bigger than me. It’s about inspiring others.”
GLENDALE, Ariz. – Antonio Brown still is working through his helmet issue, trying to find the proper fit that is certified and legal in the NFL’s eyes. He wore a helmet Thursday during pre-game warmups, but he hasn’t completed his quest to find the Schutt Air Advantage made within the last 10 years and get it reconditioned and re-certified.
He’s working on it and has made progress after losing a grievance Monday to wear an older helmet he has donned since high school.
This helmet issue is important to him, but Brown made it clear after Thursday’s 33-26 preseason victory over the Arizona Cardinals that he was never, ever going to retire over it. Brown refuted last week’s ESPN report that he told the Raiders he would hang ‘em up over this helmet issue.
“I don’t know where they got that from, or who made that up, either,” Brown said. “Why would I retire, man? I have a beautiful career. I’m healthy. I love to play the game. Obviously, I inspire people with the way I play the game. I’m grateful to play the game. I’m excited to put it all on display, not only for my family but for these guys and our shared goals and everybody in the community who believes in me.”
Brown said he missed the team while he was away during a roughly 10-day stretch that saw him head to Florida to rehab frostbitten feet. He’s back now and on the verge of practicing with the team full-time after missing 12 of 13 camp practices thus far.
“You don’t take the game for granted,” Brown said. “Anytime you have a bunch of guys together who are committed to a great cause, that’s something unique. To be a part of that is a special feeling.”
Brown is committed to the team and to trying to turn this Raiders franchise around. He was impressed by the offensive showing against the Cardinals, where the top group flashed dynamic ability in their only series.
“I’m excited to see my teammates excel,” Brown said. “I’m glad that I could be here to support them. I can’t wait to put my best foot forward, be with the guys, put my hand in the pile and work hard with them.”
Brown hopes to be doing so soon with certified headgear. He crowdsourced his search for a Schutt Air Advantage, and he has been getting options for possible use despite the model being discontinued.
“I’m still trying helmets right now,” Brown said. “As long as the league certifies them, those are the ones I’m trying out. I’m trying out every one I have. There have been a lot of great fans sending helmets. I’m just following protocol, man. I’m just excited to be back. You’ll be seeing a lot of me here shortly. I’m just excited to be around my teammates in the building and reached the shared goals we’re here to achieve.”