ALAMEDA -- Antonio Brown has done extensive work building a rapport with quarterback Derek Carr and a receiver corps he wants to lead.
That’s an effort he started shortly after being traded to the Raiders in March, with all the extra time spent with his quarterback. He went to Carr’s son’s birthday party in Fresno. He has been over to Carr’s house, and they’ve found East Bay parks or university fields to work on timing and chemistry.
“I think it did help connecting with him early on,” Brown said after Tuesday’s OTA session. “As the offseason continues, I’ll continue to get better. I think he learned firsthand working out, and that I’m always trying to get faster. I’m excited and grateful to be here continuing to put my will on display and help the team out.”
Brown can’t help the team scoring touchdowns in May. He can demand better from his position group and leading by example by practicing his tail off.
“Camaraderie is key,” Brown said. “You need that to win and get to know the guys and have their back. I’m out here to do that, and show what I’m about.”
Some may take that quote an apply it as a shot at Pittsburgh, and the divisiveness often emanating from previous Steelers locker rooms. That wasn’t a cannonball across the bow, or a podium misstep.
Brown doesn’t make those. He’s as polished as it gets in front of the press, sticking to his message and filling downtime with a megawatt smile.
Tuesday was all about chemistry and understanding those he’s working with and for. That, he says, is why he has put so much effort into making an excellent early impression on his new team.
“You want that respect for a guy, to know what he stands for and where he comes from so you can be on the same page and do what you desire to do,” Brown said. “We have a desire to win.”
Brown previously talked about setting a new standard for work ethic within his position group, about instituting fines for mistakes and creating accountability within a new locker room culture.
That has already been instituted in meeting rooms as he tries to lead a position group also featuring Tyrell Williams, Ryan Grant and Hunter Renfrow.
“We’re bringing the juice, challenging each other every day,” Brown said. “We’re holding each other accountable, for knowing what to do and how to do it.”
There’s someone holding Brown accountable as well. Gruden is pushing his superstar receiver hard, just as he did previously working with Jerry Rice and Tim Brown in their 30s.
Brown admits surprise at Gruden’s unwavering intensity and welcomes someone above matching his intensity.
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“He challenged me from the meeting room to the field, lining me up in all kinds of positions,” Brown said. “He’s hurrying up the offense to see if I can handle it.
“…He’s excited every day. I thought he would slow it down during the offseason, but he’s always high energy. I love the passion. There’s never a dull moment with him.”