Antonio Brown, Jon Gruden bonding quickly during Raiders' offseason

Antonio Brown, Jon Gruden bonding quickly during Raiders' offseason

Jon Gruden had seen Antonio Brown practice well before coaching him. The Raiders head coach had access to a few Pittsburgh workouts in his previous gig as a Monday Night Football color analyst, and the All-Pro receiver made quite an impression.

It was so positive Gruden declared Brown maybe the hardest practice worker he had ever seen, and that was back in Dec. 2018, before the Raiders and Steelers clashed last season.

An appreciation for the daily grind foreshadowed a solid working relationship, which has manifested throughout this Raiders offseason program.

“I think the relationship has been great,” Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. “I think they’re both like-minded, they both love football. That’s a big part of it. I think that's a big part of the respect they have for one another.”

It was clear early, when Gruden and Brown bonded over film cut-ups mere hours after the receiver was formally acquired from Pittsburgh.

Gruden’s affinity for Brown has grown in the offseason program’s daily grind, where Brown has proven to be a hard worker and energetic practice player and influence.

“I just love guys like that. He’s like … he just wants it,” Gruden said in an interview with NBC Sports NFL senior writer Peter King. “Reminds me of, you throw a dog the ball, he just goes and gets it. He keeps going, and going, and going, and going. He just won’t stop. Antonio’s energy is contagious.”

Landing in Gruden’s good graces doesn’t earn special treatment. That’s even true for elite talents. Gruden pushed Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Tim Brown hard during his previous run as Raiders head coach.

He is pushing Brown more all the time, even with games that count so far off.

“Absolutely. He challenged me from the meeting room to the field,” Brown said. “Lining me up at all kind of positions, hurrying up the offense’s tempo to see if I’m able to mentally pick up what I’m doing, where I’m lining up really fast. So, it’s never a dull day with coach. Always challenging, always high energy and always detailed and fundamental in regards to our assignment.”

Brown played coy when asked how he fits into Gruden’s offensive system. A “we’ll see” is all we’ve got, and opponents won’t get much more this summer, considering Brown is expected to play little, if at all, in the preseason.

Gruden does plan to move Brown all over the formation, off both sides and in the slot, trying to establish favorable matchups for someone surely emphasized in defensive coverage plans.

The Raiders hope adding Tyrell Williams and Ryan Grant and even fifth-rounder Hunter Renfrow –- tight end Darren Waller will be a factor in the receiving game as well –- will divert some focus from Brown. Even if the receiver corps proves threatening overall, Brown will always be a focal point.

[RELATED: Ex-foes AB, Burfict showing unity as Raiders teammates]

Brown understands that, and wants to lead with an infectious style of practice and play.

“It’s just great to have a guy that’s so passionate about playing the wide receiver position, but also just passionate about football,” Olson said. “He brings a lot of juice to our side of the football. He always has a smile on his face. He’s enjoying it. That part of it has been real refreshing.”

Source: Raiders rookie Maxx Crosby fined for hit on Patrick Mahomes

Source: Raiders rookie Maxx Crosby fined for hit on Patrick Mahomes

Maxx Crosby is a little lighter in the wallet.

And for a fourth-round draft pick, that's a big deal.

The Raiders rookie was fined $21,056 by the NFL for a hit on Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes last Sunday, a source told NBC Sports California's Scott Bair.

“The (penalty) was tough," Crosby said. "I was just trying to make a play. I’m not really sure how to avoid something like that.”

Crosby jumped up in an attempt to block Mahomes' pass and fell on the reigning MVP with all his weight. The referees didn't care and called Crosby for roughing the passer.

[RELATED: How to watch Raiders vs. Vikings]

Considering Crosby's 2019 base salary is $495,000, a fine of $21,000 is no laughing matter for the No. 106 draft pick.

Crosby appeared on 29 of the Raiders' 68 defensive snaps against Mahomes and the Chiefs. The Eastern Michigan product recorded two total tackles.

Raiders-Vikings odds, predictions: Betting lines, picks for NFL Week 3 game

Raiders-Vikings odds, predictions: Betting lines, picks for NFL Week 3 game

For a team moving its operations to Nevada in the next few years, the oddsmakers are not exactly kind to the Las Vegas Oakland Raiders.

The spread in Sunday’s game is the third-largest around the league, as people seem to expect the Minnesota Vikings to roll Jon Gruden and the Raiders in Week 3.

[RELATED: Five Raiders to watch in Week 3: All eyes on Josh Jacobs vs. Vikings]


Caesars: MIN -8.5 (-110)
Consensus: MIN -8.5 (-111)
Westgate: MIN -8.5 (-110)
Wynn: MIN -8.5 (-110)

Here’s how NFL writers around the country see the matchup shaking out:

Paul Gutierrez, ESPN: Raiders 23, Vikings 21
Courtney Cronin, ESPN: Vikings 28, Raiders 17
Gregg Rosenthal, Vikings 24, Raiders 17
Michael David Smith, ProFootballTalk: Vikings 24, Raiders 17
Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk: Vikings 27, Raiders 17
Tadd Haislop, SportingNews: Vikings 24, Raiders 17