Ever since Antonio Brown decided to take over the news cycle by posting a picture of his grotesque feet, speculation as to what happened has been aplenty. It’s come to a consensus that it has something to with Brown’s interaction with a cryotherapy chamber. Now, whether he suffered frostbite or some kind of skin infection is up for debate. What isn’t up for debate is that the Oakland Raiders want him back on the practice field.
The offense has played well in his absence, but Brown brings a whole other dynamic to the team. His versatility will match up nicely with Tyrell Williams as a deep ball threat and Darren Waller’s big-play ability. The team has stayed relatively quiet about the timetable of Brown’s return, but it doesn’t seem like anybody is quite sure when he’ll be back. He did participate in one practice and looked amazing, but he’s missed over a week at this point. He could suit up any day, but until the Raiders release something concrete, it’s going to be assumed that he’s out for a while. With the recent report from ESPN’s Sal Palantonio that the team has no timetable for Brown’s return, the Raiders may be starting to sweat.
Is It Time for the Raiders to Start Worrying About Antonio Brown?
Brown is experienced, proven and probably doesn’t need a lot of practice to get back to top form. The problem is, he’s with a new team and in a new offense. Training camp is the time for him to work out any kinks. Quarterback Derek Carr and Brown worked together quite a bit in the offseason, so there is some rapport there. But those were without pads or elite defenders. Brown getting some work against Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib while the Rams were in town would’ve been very beneficial for the team. It’s not full-on panic mode yet, but it might be time for the Raiders to start thinking of a backup plan in case he’s not ready for week one.
Dr. David J. Chao wrote in a piece for The San Diego Union-Tribune that “this [situation] should resolve soon. It might affect his preseason time with new quarterback Derek Carr but should not come close to affecting his regular-season availability.”
Those are promising words from the doctor, but he admits that he’s just going off what he’s seen from the Instagram picture and heard in the media. It makes sense for the team to ease Brown in, even if he’s ready to go. The biggest worry should be that as a wide receiver, Brown is going to be using his feet a lot. It’s not inconceivable that he could heal up and then re-aggravate the injury once he starts getting back to a normal workload. It could be possible that the Raiders decide to keep him out to start the season just to make sure that there’s no possibility that the foot issue will return.
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Will the Raiders Survive if He’s out for a Few Games?
Even the biggest worrywarts don’t see Brown missing too many games. However, the team hasn’t given the media anything, so it’s hard to know for sure how long he could be out. Brown’s impact to the offense will be substantial, but general manager Mike Mayock has done a good job of stuffing the roster with more offensive talent. Tyrell Williams is capable of filling in during Brown’s absence. He’s impressed in camp and has put up a 1,000-yard season in the past. Hunter Renfrow and J.J. Nelson have also proven to be productive options.
The first team the Raiders play is the Denver Broncos in week one and while division games are always tough and important, the Broncos are not as good as they once were. Brown could probably sit out that game and Oakland would be fine. However, the team will definitely want him back for week two against the Kansas City Chiefs. There’s no way anybody is stopping the Patrick Mahomes led offense, so the Raiders will need to score a lot of points if they’re going to pull off the upset. That game is followed by a matchup against the always tough Minnesota Vikings. In all honesty, Jon Gruden’s squad is going to need Brown back as soon as possible. They didn’t bring him in to sit on the sidelines. The team does have some solid options if he’s out for long, but nobody can replace AB’s production.