Amari Cooper's Cowboys keep winning; Raiders' draft pick keeps falling


Amari Cooper's Cowboys keep winning; Raiders' draft pick keeps falling

Another week, another game where Amari Cooper hurt the Raiders' NFL draft position.

The Dallas Cowboys receiver caught 10 passes for a career-high 217 yards and three touchdowns Sunday. That included the game-winner in Dallas' 29-23 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, when Cooper scored on a crazy bounce that (almost) put the Miami Dolphins to shame.

Of course, Cooper wasn't just in the right place at the right time in Week 14. He also caught a 75-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter for his second score of the day, and gave the Cowboys a 23-16 lead. 

That TD was Cooper's second of at least 75 yards since he joined the Cowboys. Dallas won its fifth consecutive game and improved to 5-1 since acquiring Cooper from the Raiders for a first-round pick.

In all likelihood, that pick won't be as strong as the Raiders first envisioned, and Cooper is a big reason why. Much like Khalil Mack's effect on the Chicago Bears’ defense, Cooper has helped rejuvenate the Cowboys' offense. 

Of course, that's come at the expense of the draft position of the Raiders' additional first-round picks. Dallas, like Chicago, is in the driver's seat to win a division title, kicking Oakland's pair of extra picks further down the first round.

Plus, the Raiders' own pick took a hit Sunday after their crazy last-second win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Three selections will give Jon Gruden -- and, reportedly, a new general manager -- plenty to work with in the upcoming draft. 

As long as the Cowboys and Bears keep it up, though, the Raiders likely will wait a while between their first and second picks.

Antonio Brown, Drew Rosenhaus, Jon Gruden cover helmet drama on 'Hard Knocks'

Antonio Brown, Drew Rosenhaus, Jon Gruden cover helmet drama on 'Hard Knocks'

Antonio Brown’s last week has been well documented. He returned to Raiders training camp after roughly 10 days away on Aug. 13, a week back from Tuesday’s episode of “Hard Knocks.”

His recovery from frostbitten feet, increased activity in walk-throughs and pregame warmups and his ongoing helmet issues were all chronicled by NBC Sports Bay Area and others in great detail. So was his decision to leave the Raiders Napa training camp complex and skip Sunday’s practice, which prompted the general manager Mike Mayock’s “all-in or all-out” proclamation.

The third “Hard Knocks” episode didn’t tread tons of new ground, though unique access provided two interesting conversations with head coach Jon Gruden.

The first came with agent Drew Rosenhaus on the day Brown came back from rehab with a foot specialist. The second occurred with Brown himself on Saturday, the eve of Brown’s second departure from Raiders camp.

Let’s look at what he heard from Rosenhaus first, which focused on the helmet issue and the powerful agent admitted some missteps.

Rosenhaus: After nine years and you kick ass and you don’t have any injuries…I’m not saying that we handled it the right way, but he’ll kick ass for you. He’s going to help you win a lot of games.
Gruden: Yes, yes he will.

Brown has been emotional about this helmet issue and is passionate about wearing his preferred helmet. He has, according to NFL Network’s Mike Silver, gone so far as to paint the helmet he likes in Raiders colors despite it coming from outside the team.

Brown has worn a different helmet Thursday before the exhibition at Arizona and again for Tuesday’s practice, at least, but he doesn’t like it.

“It’s one of the new, approved helmets, and he really doesn’t like it,” Gruden said Thursday, a quote that aired on the show.

Later, Brown confirmed his dissatisfaction with the helmet.

“Is this an ugly lid or what?” Brown told a teammate.

While Mayock had to play bad cop on Sunday, Gruden has owned the good cop role in this whole Brown saga.

[RELATED: AB's latest helmet grievance likely heard Friday]

He did so after a Saturday walk-through in Napa, when the Raiders thought he was with the team to stay.

Gruden: I’m really impressed you know all the formations.
Brown: I’m a professional. I would feel like a slapd--k if don’t know what the f--- to do, right?
Gruden: Do your feet feel all right?
Brown: Once they get hot they get a little burning, but for the most part I feel good. When it gets hot, I have to take my shoes off.
Gruden: Why don’t you go to a cryochamber and…
Brown: F--- that. I’ll never do that again. Thanks for supporting me, Coach. My f------ head, the feet, the people after me
Gruden: I’ve been there.
Brown: You’ve been a constant support, Coach.
Gruden: If you have any problems…I have problems…
Brown: We’re in this together
Gruden: I know you have a lot of people in your ear because you’re like a corporation that has kind of gone global. But, at the end of the day, let’s keep the sh—simple. Football comes first. Everything else comes way behind right now.

Antonio Brown seen holding new NFL-approved helmet at Raiders practice

Antonio Brown seen holding new NFL-approved helmet at Raiders practice

It's another day and the Antonio Brown #HelmetGate is still ongoing. But there is a new update -- Brown is finally wearing a helmet.

Raiders coach Jon Gruden said Brown did indeed wear a helmet to practice Tuesday, and NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported the helmet was a "Schutt Vengeance Z10 LTD" model, one of the 34 helmets approved for use by the NFL. It rated better than the "Schutt AiR Advantage" one Brown originally preferred that caused all of this drama.

You can check out AB walking with the helmet in the video player above.

Here's a closer look as well.

The "Schutt AiR Advantage" that Brown originally wanted was given a two out of a possible five-star rating by Virginia Tech Helmet Ratings and was deemed just "adequate." Plus, it was no longer produced by manufacturers. The one Brown reportedly wore in Tuesday's practice received five stars from the same rating company.

[RELATED: AB's helmet issue elicits Eisen rant]

It's not over, however.

Despite the certified helmet in tow, Brown filed his second grievance against the NFL to wear a more recent model of the Schutt AiR Advantage. 

That hearing reportedly will be on Friday.