Raiders

Antonio Brown torches JuJu Smith-Schuster over late-season fumble

Antonio Brown torches JuJu Smith-Schuster over late-season fumble

Antonio Brown's feud with the Steelers isn't over quite yet.

Brown spent the first part of the offseason forcing his way out of Pittsburgh and has thrown a few social media barbs at his old club since being traded to the Raiders at the start of the new league year.

The All-Pro receiver previously ripped former coach Mike Tomlin for his remarks at the NFL's owner meetings.

On Sunday, Brown found a new target.

After a Steelers fan tweeted a picture at Brown that stated JuJu Smith-Schuster was named Steelers Player of the Year for last season, Brown started seeing red and dragged his former teammate in a reply to the fan's tweet. 

Ouch.

The fumble Brown is referring to is Smith-Schuster's costly gaffe at the end of the Steelers' Week 16 loss to the New Orleans Saints. The loss bumped the Steelers out of the driver's seat in the AFC North and forced them to rely on a Baltimore Ravens loss in Week 17 in order to make the playoffs. The Ravens beat the Cleveland Browns and the Steelers' season ended much sooner than they hoped. 

Smith-Schuster fired back by repeating an early tweet Brown had sent about keeping his emotions in check.

Then the USC product addressed Brown directly.

[RELATED: Derek Carr raves about Antonio Brown, other new acquisitions]

Unfortunately, the Raiders and Steelers aren't scheduled to meet in the 2019 regular season. But if the Raiders can improve in Year 2 of Jon Gruden's second run as head coach, a potential playoff matchup could be in the cards. 

Wouldn't that be juicy?

Raiders training camp battles: Who steps up as primary slot receiver?

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USA TODAY SPORTS IMAGES

Raiders training camp battles: Who steps up as primary slot receiver?

Editor’s note: We’ll take a look at several Raiders training camp battles leading up to the first full-squad practice on Saturday, and then we’ll update their progress throughout the preseason. Let’s get into the first one, focusing on slot receiver.

Raiders receivers Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams will start and play most every offensive snap. Write that in ink, but don’t put the pen away. Williams will play mostly outside opposite Brown, though AB will move all over the formation as Jon Gruden tries to find favorable matchups for his best offensive player.

Brown will play outside and in, on both sides of quarterback Derek Carr. Tight end Darren Waller will often split off the line and end up running routes from the slot.

When Brown and Williams are anchoring the outside, who steps into the slot?

We don’t know that yet. That role will be decided after training camp begins this week at the Napa Valley Marriott, though Ryan Grant and Hunter Renfrow seem to be the primary combatants for that important role.

Grant comes to the Raiders highly recommended by Gruden’s brother Jay, following several years working with him in Washington (2014-17). The Silver and Black tried to sign him in free agent last offseason, but he ended up in Indianapolis weathering a disappointing 2018.

He worked a ton in the slot with Washington, though he can move around and has proven a solid ancillary option anywhere. Grant has reliable hands and is a solid route runner motivated to get back on track playing out his one-year contract.

His proven versatility and veteran savvy gives him an inside track to this gig and more generally as the third receiver in the offense.

Renfrow will fight for early snaps while training to master several receiver positions in Gruden’s offense. The fifth-round Clemson product worked primarily from the slot in college, and is comfortable creating quick separation inside. He’s a reliable, big game player, and that should help him remain confident transitioning to the pros this summer. He’ll have to prove effective against NFL cornerbacks in camp and preseason games, and he's capable of doing that. Coaches saw steady progress throughout the offseason program, and are interested to watch him compete for early playing time. 

While Jon Gruden will move his targets all over, especially Brown and Waller, a reliable slot receiver will prove valuable with coverage focused elsewhere. That’s especially true on third downs, where Carr will need someone big plays just beyond the sticks.

Early edge: Grant

Derek Carr might not go with Raiders to Las Vegas, Mike Florio says

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AP

Derek Carr might not go with Raiders to Las Vegas, Mike Florio says

The Raiders have one final season at the Coliseum before they move to Las Vegas in 2020, but will Derek Carr still be the starting quarterback when they get to Sin City?

After ranking in the bottom third of the league in total offense last year, Oakland has been quite busy this offseason, acquiring players to help bolster its offensive attack.

The Raiders traded for Antonio Brown and signed fellow wide receiver Tyrell Williams in free agency. They also used a first-round draft pick on running back Josh Jacobs, and signed massive offensive tackle Trent Brown, who just won a Super Bowl protecting Tom Brady for the New England Patriots.

Given all of these additions on the offensive side of the ball, ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio believes this will be a make-or-break season for Carr, and doubts he'll still be a member of the team when they move to Vegas if he disappoints.

"Think of it this way," Florio wrote. "If the chemistry experiment/Frankenstein monster that starts and ends with [Antonio Brown] fails, whose fault will it be? Brown’s? Nope. [Jon] Gruden’s? Nope. [Mike] Mayock’s? Nope. If the Raiders fail to get the most out of Antonio Brown, it will be the fault of the guy who will be under immense pressure to deliver the ball with the same underrated precision that Ben Roethlisberger delivered it for nine years in Pittsburgh.

[RELATED: Watch Raiders' Brown do insane agility drill involving brick]

"If Derek Carr can step up," Florio continued, "great for him and the Raiders. If he can’t, he’ll quite possibly be the highest-profile member of the organization to not enjoy the freedom from paying state income tax that goes with moving from California to Nevada."

The fact that Gruden and Mayock inherited Carr -- as opposed to drafting him -- seems relevant here. If he can't take a step forward with a significantly improved offense around him, the Raiders might just be debuting a new stadium and a new quarterback a little more than a year from now.