Antonio Brown has given the Raiders a number of headaches during training camp.
It's frustrating for sure, but the Raiders know it'll be worth it if they can keep the four-time Pro-Bowl selection all-in.
Brown's Hall-of-Fame talent can't be duplicated or replaced, and the Raiders hope that when they take the field Monday night against the Denver Broncos in their season-opener, their offense is just as unstoppable as they imagined while building it around Brown and quarterback Derek Carr.
If you needed a reminder of how talented Brown is, and why the Raiders are OK with all the antics, all you needed to see was the ridiculous, one-handed, top-tapping grab that AB84 put on display in Tuesday night's "Hard Knocks" finale.
— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) September 4, 2019
One more time.
The Raiders' revamped offense has to potential to be something out of a video game.
Brown will draw the attention of the defense, which should allow Tyrell Williams -- a talented deep threat in his own right -- as well as Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller to operate against man coverage. Carr has the arm strength and talent to make the offense hum at a high level, but Brown is the key. Without him in the picture, the offense goes from high octane to something resembling a Ford Pinto.
When Brown was missing from training camp, the Raiders offense looked bogged down in joint practices with the Rams. The defense was able to key in on Williams and Renfrow as the Silver and Black lacked the blazing speed of Brown that can take the top off the defense. It was early in camp, but the absence of the star receiver was noticeable.
Brown wanted to be a Raider. The Raiders wanted him here. It's a marriage that has to work.
Head coach Jon Gruden can play good cop while general manager Mike Mayock plays bad cop and tries to keep the train on the tracks. So far, we're right on course.
Brown wants to make a lot of trips to the Black Hole this season. If he's happy and producing, the Raiders have a shot to flip the script on last year's 4-12 season and make a quick turnaround toward a possible playoff berth.
Gruden and Mayock retooled and reshaped the roster this offseason, with Brown being their key acquisition. A signal that this season can be different. A true Year 1 under Gruden, instead of the Year 0 teardown from a season ago.
No, Brown's not the easiest to deal with, but the more talent you have the longer the rope.
Look at that catch again.
Brown's got a ton of rope left.