Raiders cornerbacks find great value covering Antonio Brown in camp

Raiders cornerbacks find great value covering Antonio Brown in camp

NAPA – Antonio Brown was as dynamic as ever in the Raiders' padded practice Tuesday, regularly zooming by defenders while making big plays.

Cornerback Trayvon Mullen was one of Brown’s victims. The second-round draft pick got beat soundly for a touchdown, but didn’t get too down. He got beat by one of the NFL’s best wide receivers, and wanted to use it as a learning experience.

Brown made it a coachable moment. He advised Mullen after the rep on how to do better the next time, a common occurrence for someone he has chosen to mentor.

“Quite frankly, he’s getting me better,” Mullen said. “I’m going against the best and each rep I know he’s going to bring his best. So it’s going to do nothing but get me better. Him catching a ball on me, to me breaking up a ball, we’re both going to get each other better at the end of the day.”

While it didn’t come against Brown, Mullen showed improvement on a deep shot intended for J.J. Nelson, and the Clemson product showed great closing speed to break the pass up.

Mullen isn’t the only defensive back excited to face Brown on a daily basis. He practices at a different level than most, finding game speed on every active rep. Gareon Conley and Keisean Nixon also learned that covering Brown is difficult, though Lamarcus Joyner prevented a deep volley to Brown later in drills.

Conley matched up with Brown several times Tuesday with the team’s top cornerback facing its best receiver. Those reps are vital for Brown and Conley. The Raiders hope the latter can become a true lockdown cornerback, capable of competing with the NFL’s best.

“He was brought here because he is a great receiver,” Conley said. “Every time I get a chance to go I’m going to try to go against him and always ask him questions about when he breaks, what he’s doing at the line, down the field, how he plays against (cornerbacks). It’s going to make me better.”

While Brown vs. Conley was regular on Tuesday, head coach Jon Gruden said matchups will vary based upon the day. The goal is for each cornerback to get work against different types of receivers and deal with the dynamics of playing the same guy over and over like they would in a game.

“We are going to try to isolate matchups every day. Sometimes you’ll come out here and see Conley with Antonio, Conley with Tyrell [Williams], Conley with [Hunter] Renfrow, whoever,” Gruden said. “We are trying to see certain matchups and I think the competition has really helped everybody get better.”

The Raiders secondary will see Brown regularly soon.

The Silver and Black are keeping whatever ails him quiet, but one thing was plain Tuesday morning: There was no hitch in his giddy-up.

Brown spent a few days on the non-football injury list with an undisclosed injury, came off it during a Sunday practice cameo and returned to full-speed work in this training camp’s second padded practice.

He was active for most of the session, but skipped out prior to team drills. Brown went into the locker room, ditched his pads and was back before long playing with his kids.

While full practice work will come in time, each day Brown shows how dominant he can be even with somewhat limited action. Each rep also doubles as a master class in how cornerbacks should cover top receivers.

[RELATED: Renfrow positioned to be key piece of Raiders' offense]

All of the Raiders defensive backs see value in going up against Brown, but Mullen has done so more than most. He and Brown worked out together several times this offseason, and have bonded quickly over growing up in similar areas of South Florida.

“I mean, it’s something that we always did in the offseason was working out with each other getting it in,” Mullen said. “Getting to train with him is awesome. One of the best, so he’s preparing me for other guys that we got to go against in the league.”

Catching up on 'Sports Uncovered': Behind-the-scenes, untold stories

NBC Sports

Catching up on 'Sports Uncovered': Behind-the-scenes, untold stories

Want to hear behind-the-scenes, untold stories about iconic athletes or moments in sports? You've come to the right place. 

That is the exact premise of NBC Sports' Sports Uncovered podcast.

Four such untold stories have been covered so far. Missed any of them? Not to worry, you can catch up here.

You better get a move on, because next Thursday, July 9, a fifth episode will be released on the disappearance of Barret Robbins at Super Bowl 37. You won't want to miss it.

Sports Uncovered is available in the MyTeams app and all podcasting platforms: AppleStitcherSpotifyGoogle PodcastsTuneIn and iHeart.

Check out the latest podcast embedded below.

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

Raiders' Allegiant Stadium just shy of completion after blackout test


Raiders' Allegiant Stadium just shy of completion after blackout test

With the $2 billion Allegiant Stadium sitting at 98 percent complete, only a small amount of work remains ahead of its July 31 substantial completion date.

Some of that work includes various tests of systems at the 65,000-seat stadium, including what would occur if the home of the Silver and Black experienced an emergency.

A blackout test was conducted this week at the stadium to simulate an emergency.

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