One of the only real disappointments of Oakland Raiders training camp so far has been the absence of star wide receiver Antonio Brown. He’s been in and out of practice while nursing an undisclosed injury. It’s assumed that it’s involving his legs or feet and it’s in all likelihood a precaution. That being said, he’s one of most fun players in the NFL to watch, so it’s a shame that he hasn’t been heavily involved.
Brown made a brief appearance at Tuesday’s practice and put on a show. After that performance, he’s been absent at the last two practices. Brown is the best player on the Raiders roster, so he needs the practice reps less than anybody on the team. However, he’s on a new team and in a new offensive system. He’s going to need to learn the offense at some point. Nobody in the NFL works harder than Brown, so it’s unlikely that he wants to be sitting out of practice. There’s no point of the team trying to overdo it with Brown if he’s not 100 percent. He’ll be back when the risk of injury is minimal to nonexistent.
Gruden Looking to ‘Get the Party Started’
Perhaps the person that’s most eager to get Antonio Brown back on the field is head coach Jon Gruden. Brown was the prize pickup of the offseason so the fact that he hasn’t been on the practice field much has to be frustrating.
“We’re all disappointed, we think [Brown’s] disappointed,” said Gruden after Friday’s practice. “We’d like to get the party started. We’d like to get him out here. He’s a big part of this team, but for the time being, we’re going to work hard.”
The team has been very quiet about what’s ailing him, but hopefully, it’s nothing serious. His return to practice will probably happen at random because there hasn’t been a time frame given. Fortunately, the team has had a lot of players step up while he’s out.
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Blessing in Disguise
Obviously, a player being injured is never a cause for celebration, but in Brown’s absence, other Raiders receivers have stepped up. Tyrell Williams has been an absolute stud as the number one receiver. He’s showed off strong hands and elite speed. Gruden gave him a big shoutout.
“We’ve seen the development of some other receivers that we’re excited about,” said Gruden. “Tyrell Williams has been very good here. He’s made some big plays at multiple positions and he’s showed great stamina.”
Williams isn’t the only guy that has impressed Gruden.
“Marcel Ateman has made some plays. My young friend from the Arizona Cardinals J.J Nelson is starting to make some plays in many different situations.”
He was asked if Brown’s absence was a “blessing in disguise” and he said “I’m not going to get into all that. I want the guy out here as soon as possible. I’d like him to never leave and stay in the huddle every play, but life goes on and you have to continue to work. Healthy guys have to take advantage of these opportunities and so far they have. ”
The team has been taking Brown’s absence in stride and it’s given Derek Carr a chance to see who he can rely on. There aren’t many returning wideouts for the Raiders, so it’s important that Carr builds chemistry with more than just Brown.