ALAMEDA – Antonio Brown was back practicing with the Raiders on Tuesday, wearing a certified helmet.
Head coach Jon Gruden said AB ran fast and cut strong and cleanly changed direction, showing no ill effects of once frostbitten feet.
The four-time All-Pro is fully healthy again, which was clear watching pre-game warmups before an exhibition at Arizona. He was ready to practice on Sunday, but skipped work after his preferred Schutt AiR Advantage helmet, an outdated helmet too old to receive required certification, failed a safety test and was banned regardless of when it was made.
That prompted general manager Mike Mayock to publicly ask whether Brown was “all-in or all-out.”
Brown answered that question by showing up to a Monday meeting and then practicing fully with the team on Tuesday morning.
“He’s all-in, ready to go,” Gruden said. “That’s my understanding. We’re really happy to have him out there. He’s a great player.”
Media can watch full Raiders practices any longer, but Gruden came away from the workout impressed.
“He has shown great retention of what we’re doing,” Gruden said. “He didn’t miss the offseason program. He has been in meetings. He’s in great shape and running hard and running good routes.”
We’ve known about Brown’s improved health. His willingness to practice in a certified helmet, that is not his preference, has been unknown. He wore a helmet in Arizona, so it was possible Brown is comfortable practicing in a different model.
That doesn’t mean our long national nightmare is over. The Schutt AiR Advantage will remain in our minds a bit longer after Brown filed a second grievance with the NFL Monday to use the helmet he has worn his entire career. Per NFL Network that hearing will take place on Friday.
Gruden says that won’t distract the Raiders, and the Brown drama hasn’t kept the team from its work.
“I wouldn’t read into 'Hard Knocks' being a distraction or Antonio Brown being a distraction,” Gruden said. “There have been no distractions. We have had 89 guys working hard. Our film is out there for you to watch. If you see a distracted football team, I disagree with you. I’m not going to make any more of it than that. There are a lot of teams missing star players. My brother is missing one. The Cowboys are missing one. The Texans are missing one. That happens in this league. Every year, there are exceptions you have to deal with. I like our team. I like the way we’re competing. I like the way we’re working.”
While Mayock drew a hard line with Brown on Sunday, Gruden played the good cop on Tuesday by offering his superstar unwavering and continues support.
“I hate to break it to anybody, but we’ve known the status regarding his feet,” Gruden said. “He just showed up with frostbite. I’ve never had a guy show up with frostbite. Fortunately, we have that under control.
“This grievance thing is no laughing matter. It’s something that is really important to him. There’s nothing wrong with supporting your players on things that they believe in. We also understand the league’s position, but I’m confident that he’s going to be one heck of a player for us, and that he’s ready to roll.”