Raiders

Raiders

NAPA -- Jon Gruden knows exactly what to expect from Antonio Brown. Both on and off the field. 

"I expect a lot more drama from No. 84. I really do," Gruden said with a chuckle Friday during his pre-training camp press conference. 

Brown, whom the Raiders acquired via trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers back in March, expectedly arrived in Napa in grand fashion, coming to camp via hot air balloon Friday morning.  

Gruden and Raiders general manager Mike Mayock had a few light-hearted questions when informed of the All-Pro receiver's dramatic arrival. 

"Where did he land?" Mayock asked looking around. "Is he here?"

"Is he OK? That's all I want to know," Gruden said with a wry smile. 

Brown's off-field antics and prickly personality wore out his welcome in the Steel City, but so far, Gruden has loved everything he's seen from the star pass-catcher. 

"I told Antonio to try not to yell at (quarterback Derek Carr), yell at me when you have a problem," Gruden said. "Then he started yelling at me, and I said, 'Don't yell at me, yell at (Greg Olson) he's the offensive coordinator.'"

Overall, Gruden was underwhelmed by Brown's sky-high entrance, but the receiver has exceeded expectations in his on-field work.

"He's a fun guy to be around, man," Gruden said. "I expected a little more than a hot air balloon. I thought he might jump out of an airplane and parachute himself in. He's going to add a lot of life to this organization at a position where obviously we need some explosive plays."

 

Brown, who has notched at least 101 receptions, 1,284 yards and eight touchdowns in each of the past six seasons, already has wowed Mayock, Gruden and his teammates with his impressive vertical speed and big-play ability. 

"I can just tell you that at practice when he catches a quick slant and gets vertical and goes, it's rare to see grown men in the NFL look at each other and just start giggling and laughing," Mayock said. "And it happens almost every day in practice.

"He just does something and grown men who have been around the league for years just look at each other -- and I think what it also does is the young guys get to see how an All-Pro, potential Hall of Famer actually practices on a daily basis. And if you're a young guy and you look at that, you better understand what it takes."

The Raiders placed Brown on the non-football injury list Friday afternoon, but the injury reportedly is minor.

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While the Raiders have loved the impact Brown's work ethic has had on the team, Gruden also was quick to praise the work of fellow receiver Tyrell Williams. But the Raiders coach hopes the similarities between his top two receivers don't extend beyond the gridiron. 

"I don't want to overshadow Tyrell Williams, either," Gruden said. "He's cut from the same cloth. Just quiet. Doesn't jump out of balloons in hot air. Hopefully, he doesn't learn that from Antonio."

The offseason addition of Brown and Williams has revitalized the Raiders' receiving corps and also forced the defensive backs to raise their game. 

"We have some life at that position," Gruden said of his receivers. "I think it's really helped our secondary, listening to Karl Joseph and some of the veterans back there. It's elevated their practice habits. They don't want to look bad. They want to beat these guys. They want to go out there -- they understand, 'if we can cover these guys, we can cover anybody.'

"And I think that competition is something that the Raiders are used to, something we're getting back to and you better come ready to practice or you're going to look bad."

The Raiders' first practice of training camp will take place Saturday morning.