ALAMEDA – The Raiders cut Antonio Brown on Saturday after drama-filled week that included a verbal altercation with general manager Mike Mayock, which prompted the Raiders to fine him, void his guarantees and eventually release him just two days before starting the regular season.
The Raiders captains were left to pick up the pieces with Brown reportedly headed to the New England Patriots, and to keep the Raiders focused.
"Derek Carr, Rodney Hudson, Tahir Whitehead, Vontaze Burfict and Lamarcus Joyner have done a great job," coach Jon Gruden said Saturday. "It didn't work out with Antonio, but it's time to move on. We have a game on Monday night."
It will be trying, but moving on is something the defense might find easier than those on the other side of the football.
“AB isn’t tackling for us,” Burfict said. “We’re playing defense and he wasn’t going to help us stop them from scoring. Our job doesn’t change.”
His role as a team captain might, as he tries to rally players and maintain focus on the task at hand.
“We have so many leaders on this team, including several who were not voted in as captain,” Burfict said. “We have veterans who have been around the league a long time, and we know how to control a young team and keep the guys focused.”
They’ll face the Denver Broncos on Monday night, moving forward without their best player regardless of position.
It’s a complete change in mindset from Friday afternoon, when players believed the Brown drama was behind them after the receiver issued a heartfelt apology in a morning team meeting.
Team captains stood with Brown at that meeting, and said they would support him. Sentiment has changed some since Brown asked for his release Saturday morning on social media. Several of them talked about the situation on Saturday, though Carr was not made available for comment.
“You can’t put much thought into it,” linebacker and team captain Tahir Whitehead said. “He didn’t want to be here. We tried to support him, but at the end of the day, the rest of the guys were thinking team-first. That’s the type of mentality you need, if you don’t possess that type of mentality then it’s not going to work out.”
The Raiders have to move on fast, which might help them quickly get over the Brown situation.
“After this morning, we just have to move forward,” Whitehead said. ”You can’t really dwell on it. We have 53 other guys who have to step up and make sure we play well on Monday night.”