Raiders

Jon Gruden, Raiders played Antonio Brown helmet situation perfectly

Jon Gruden, Raiders played Antonio Brown helmet situation perfectly

Antonio Brown formally lost his grievance to wear an outdated helmet on Monday and didn’t retire over it.

What an absolute shock.

A Hall-of-Fame talent still at the peak of his powers decided to collect roughly $30 million guaranteed from the Raiders, and more likely $50 million over the life of a three-year contract.

Can’t believe it.

The Raiders' superstar receiver fought hard for something he wanted but moved right along after he didn’t get it, exactly as his employer anticipated (and this publication and others reported on Friday).

Get right out of town.

Monday’s news, of the grievance result and Brown’s reaction to it, brought a logical conclusion to this odd story.

The details leading up to this moment, however, as chronicled in great detail by NFL Network’s Mike Silver, caused an understandable stir on Friday.

Brown’s unpredictable nature, and an ESPN report that he threatened retirement over the helmet issue, heightened the attention surrounding Brown’s absence from Raiders camp. All that, combined with an unusual foot issue that has kept him out of practice, might’ve been more distraction than even head coach Jon Gruden thought was coming when he said he expected plenty of drama from No. 84.

But…if Gruden was frustrated by all the reports and the distance Brown reportedly went, per Silver, to continue using the Schutt Air Advantage helmet, he kept that inside.

Gruden played it cool and played it perfectly on Saturday night, offering Brown full support on the helmet issue while absolving him of wrong doing as it relates to his odd foot injury.

"There have been a lot of reports out there. I can't say I agree with all of them, certainly,” Gruden said after the Raiders’ 14-3 preseason victory over the L.A. Rams. “But I support this guy. I think that's what needs to be said. I don't know what anybody's writing or what anybody thinks, but this foot injury wasn't his fault. It was a total accident. It really wasn't his fault, and it's a serious injury. I know some people are smarting at it, but it's really not a laughing matter. The guy is hurt. He's innocent. He didn't do anything wrong.

"And the helmet thing is a personal matter to him, He has a strong feeling about what's he worn on his head, and we're supporting him. We understand the league's position as well, so we're in a tough spot. We hope Antonio is back here soon because he's exciting to be around. I've got some plays for him and I hope I can start calling them."

[RELATED: Will AB adjust to helmet like Brady?]

Gruden backed his guy, creating a welcome environment for Brown to return and do what he does best. A coach’s job is to maximize his players’ potential. Part of that goal is on-field schematics and development. The other part is psychological, pushing the right buttons to get the best out of a particular player. He did exactly that in this case.

Superstar management can be tricky. Those guys need to feel valued and appreciated, even beyond the respect shown through massive paychecks. Brown's recent past suggests he can be fickle, and showing unconditional support when fans and pundits were shaking their heads was the proper tact. Gruden needs Brown to be his gold-jacket best in 2019 and drive this offense forward. Supporting his guy should help acheive that goal. 

While Gruden said he anticipates drama from Brown, he also expects Brown to work extremely hard in practice and perform on game day. That time is coming, after Brown’s feet heal fully and he can finally get back to work for a coach who had his back. 

New Raiders receiver Trevor Davis working hard to be ready vs. Vikings

New Raiders receiver Trevor Davis working hard to be ready vs. Vikings

ALAMEDA – Trevor Davis went to Cal and is from Martinez, but hasn’t spent time at home since the Raiders traded for him Wednesday afternoon.

He went straight from Green Bay to the Silver and Black’s training complex, immediately immersing himself in the Raiders' schemes.

He doesn’t have much time, after all, to get ready for Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings. That’s why this trade isn’t a homecoming quite yet.

“I’m locked in at the hotel, in my playbook the whole time,” Davis said. “Going back and forth [to Martinez] is too far for me.”

The Raiders need Davis to get adjusted quickly, with return man/reserve receiver Dwayne Harris likely out a stretch with an ankle injury. He could take on Harris’ role on the team right away.

Harris is a return man first. While getting up to speed offensively by Sunday may be tough, it’s realistic to think Davis could return right away.

“It’s much more simplistic when comparing special teams to offense, so it’s easier to plug yourself into that,” Davis said. “That’s why I might be more ready to hop in there on special teams. Hopefully I’m involved in both soon, but I’m preparing to be ready for anything.”

Return help is a given for Davis, but the Raiders need receiving depth pretty badly. Ryan Grant hasn’t produced early on, J.J. Nelson has dealt with an ankle injury and Keelan Doss is a work in progress.

Davis can certainly help stretch the field with pure speed, something sorely needed in the pattern. He’s trying to use each moment to overcome the challenges of integrating to a new team during the season, including enlisting former Packer and current Raiders backup quarterback DeShone Kizer to tutor him in this scheme.

[RELATED: Ramsey could do great things for Raiders, Simms believes]

Davis admitted he never saw the move coming, but hopes to make the most of his time back home.

“You have to come in and be ready for anything,” Davis said. “The NFL is like that. Everything can change in a blink of an eye. I was all the way across the country 24 hours ago. Now I’m here, and I need to put my best foot forward and show these coaches what I can do.”

Raiders plan to expand Josh Jacobs' role in passing game moving forward

Raiders plan to expand Josh Jacobs' role in passing game moving forward

ALAMEDA -- Raiders running back Josh Jacobs is off to a strong start. His snap counts suggest he’s the Silver and Black’s clear-cut feature back, taking most of the carries through two games.

He’s worthy of them, having churned out 184 yards and two touchdowns on 35 carries. A total of 11 carries have resulted in first downs, per analytics site Pro Football Focus, with four rushes of 10-plus yards. That includes a 51-yarder through the right side and down the boundary on Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Jacobs has done everything well thus far, though there’s one thing he hasn’t been asked to do much.

Jacobs has only been targeted once in the passing game despite 22 total snaps as a receiver, and he caught it and ran for a 28-yard pickup. The Alabama product simply hasn't been out on obvious passing downs, either.

Secondary backs Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington have only been targeted five times for 28 yards on four receptions.

Jacobs has played 68 snaps from the backfield while Washington and Richard have 43 combined, with a significant portion of those snaps given while Jacobs was getting an IV versus Kansas City.

Jacobs' light receiving load has raised some eyebrows, considering his prowess catching passes out of the backfield.

[RELATED: Raiders' Jacobs reveals he's lost 10 pounds due to illness]

There’s some thought that the team might be saving that option for an important moment down the line. The Raiders, however, clearly want to unleash their first-round draft pick’s full potential.

“It’s still early in the season, early in the process,” offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. “We’re happy with Josh Jacobs and the way he’s running the football. When we have put the ball in his hands, he has produced. We’ll look to expand his role as well.”