'Optimism' Antonio Brown could return this season, Mike Florio says

'Optimism' Antonio Brown could return this season, Mike Florio says

Like a bad cold, the Antonio Brown saga just won't go away.

The former Raiders and Patriots receiver has been unemployed for the last nine weeks, with teams scared to sign him just to see the NFL suspend him over sexual assault allegations the moment he puts pen to paper. Brown recently met with the NFL as the league continues its investigation, and the receiver recently apologized to Patriots owner Robert Kraft, leading many to believe a return to the wideout-starved Patriots could be in the cards.

Most assume Brown won't play in the NFL this season, especially if the four-time All-Pro continues to go from apologetic to vindictive and back on social media depending on which way the wind blows. That, however, might not be the case, according to ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio.

“There’s optimism on Brown’s part that things went well enough last Thursday that he could be reinstated by the end of the season," Florio said Wednesday on WEEI's "The Greg Hill Show." "The prevailing view had been the NFL was going to kick the can through the end of the season, let him play next year. If they decide to suspend him, maybe give him credit for time served because for a practical matter he’s been suspended without pay for nine weeks because no one will touch him while this league investigation is pending. But, there is some optimism that he will have a chance to get back in. 

“That is what sparked really for me fascination. You throw this guy in the pool of available players with two or three weeks left in the regular season, just as an example, think about the land rush playoff teams would potentially engage (in with) him because not only do you help yourself by getting him, you help yourself by keeping him from signing with someone you’re going to have to deal with in January, which gives you even more reason to get him under contract, if and when he’s eligible to be signed.”

Brown, always one to be on social media, posted a video to Twitter on Thursday of himself working out in a Raiders helmet because we know how much he loves the Schutt AiR Advantage lid.

While Brown isn't suspended or on the Commissioner's Exempt List, the specter of that has hung over him ever since the Patriots cut him prior to Week 3. If the NFL were to clear him and OK to return, there's no telling how many teams would be willing to give him yet another chance. 

The Seahawks showed interest in Brown after the Raiders cut him, and some have suggested the 49ers would be a good landing spot for him should he become available. It seems like a return to the Patriots also could be in the cards, as Tom Brady and Co. have struggled offensively with the injuries to their receiving corps.

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Could business be boomin' again soon?

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Derek Carr details what must get fixed to reignite Raiders offense

Derek Carr details what must get fixed to reignite Raiders offense

ALAMEDA – The Raiders stink. They’re a terrible team after blowout losses against the Jets and Chiefs despite being truly amazing just over a fortnight’s past, when they were coming off a three-game winning streak that made them NFL darlings and a resurgent playoff contender.

That’s the same team we’re talking about, One coming off dramatically different results that have a once confident fan base pulling its hair out heading into Sunday’s vital matchup against the Tennessee Titans.

A win against them at Oakland Coliseum and all is right in the world (again). Lose and it’s apocalypse now.

“I’m excited we get a chance to go compete against a really good football team,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “That’s the beautiful thing about this game. You rewind two weeks ago, we were the greatest story in the NFL and two weeks later we suck again, so I think we’ll be alright. (laughter) We are just going to keep grinding. We’re going to stick to what we do.”

Carr admits they’ll have to do better, especially on offense. The passing game is stuck in neutral, revving its engine without moving an inch.

That’s large part receiver issues – Jon Gruden says he’s shaking up that position group this week – and some lackluster quarterback play with two pick-sixes in the last two games. Can’t have that, plain and simple. The Raiders can’t afford the penalty issues plaguing them recently. They can’t afford the nine-quarter touchdown drought that stretched from the Bengals game through the Jets contest and deep into the Chiefs embarrassment. The Raiders beat the Bengals but have been outscored 74-21 in two losses since.

“We’ve had a rough two weeks,” Carr said. “I’ve had a rough two weeks. It’s time to get back on track, it’s time to get back in our stadium, it’s time to be efficient on offense, it’s time to win. I’m excited we get a chance to go compete against a really good football team.”

The Raiders' offense must find a groove after hitting a rough patch, but let’s not forget this unit posted 24 or more points for six straight weeks. They can get going again by finding old magic. The key, Carr says, is staying on schedule and staying balanced. They have to start strong – they aren’t built to overcome large deficits – and avoid major mistakes.

[RELATED: Carr can't say enough about rookie Jacobs' toughness]

That’s how the Raiders did it before. That’s how they can do it again.

“Our execution has not been good enough at all,” Carr said. “Like executing the plays to every detail hasn’t been good enough at all. Turning the ball over myself. I don’t do that. I don’t want to do that. Never been something I’ve wanted to do or been a part of my game and so it doesn’t matter how it happened or why it happened, it happened, and we have to eliminate the turnovers and that starts with me.”

Johnathan Hankins loves being leader to young Raiders' defensive line


Johnathan Hankins loves being leader to young Raiders' defensive line

ALAMEDA -- Johnathan Hankins isn’t even 28 years old yet feels like an old man working on the Raiders defensive front. The starting line features two rookies off the edge and a second-year man working next to him inside.

He is an elder statesman in that crew, with plenty of experience in his seventh year out of Ohio State. Hankins is having a blast with a young, developing crew, knowing he must anchor the defensive line and help those around him make plays.

“I’m just trying to do my best to lead the guys,” Hankins said on this week’s Raiders Talk podcast. “I’ve been here longer than most of the guys on this unit, and I try to show them what it takes to be a professional and pass along all the information I learned from the veterans I worked with way back when.”

Hankins is paying it forward now with words and action. His role at defensive tackle often helps create opportunities for others pushing the pocket back and shutting down the opposition’s interior run game.

The Raiders are better in that area thanks in large part to Hankins’ improvement within the system and are certainly thankful last year’s in-season signing has become a permanent fixture upfront.

Hankins was in a weird spot before joining the Raiders last year, cut just a year into a big three-year contract with Indianapolis because the Colts changed defensive schemes.

He found a proper fit in Oakland and was happy to re-up with them this offseason.

“There was a lot going on after I got released by the Colts, and I was trying to find a place that fits well with me and finding an organization that wanted me,” Hankins said. “That’s what it boiled to, and it has really worked out with the Raiders.”

[RELATED: Mullen's confidence grows as he develops on the job]

Hankins considers it destiny that he’s Raiders, the same team name he had as a 6-year old running back and kicker growing up in Detroit and nearby Dearborn, Mich. That’s where he grew (quite literally) into the dominant defensive force that earned an Ohio State scholarship and a second-round NFL draft slot.

“I’m just enjoying this ride,” Hankins said. “I’m trying to be at my best and show everyone watching that I’m still one of the best defensive tackles in this league. The goal is to get to 12 years, and I think I’m on my way.”