NAPA — The latest layer to the Antonio Brown-helmet saga includes the threat of making the NFL liable if he sustained a head injury in a helmet he was forced to wear.
“I think it’ll be interesting if the NFL forces Antonio to wear a different helmet,” an unnamed source told The Athletic. “And he does play and he doesn’t retire as some people have reported he will do. And then he suffers a really severe injury. I’d hate to be the NFL. Because now you’ve forced him into wearing a different type of helmet. And I think at that point, though, the liability will be dramatic.”
ESPN reported Brown had a two-hour grievance hearing with the NFL on Friday.
Brown is also reported recovering from frostbitten feet as a result of a cryotherapy session where he didn’t have proper protective footwear been on the field twice, once for a very short period, and has essentially missed 10 of 11 training camp practices in Napa since arriving to training camp in a hot air balloon on July 26.
After declining comment on specifics of Brown’s health, coach Jon Gruden supported his wide receiver with regard to the injury as well as his helmet grievance following Saturday night’s 14-3 exhibition win over the Rams at the Coliseum. Brown was not present at the game.
“I support this guy,” Gruden said. “I think that’s what needs to be said.”
Gruden professed confidence Brown would “be a huge factor for the Raiders for years to come” and the organization expects to see their biggest off-season acquisition soon — possibly this week.
If Brown were to leave football over the helmet issue, he would be walking away from a three-year contract extension worth more than $50 million, more than $30 million of which is guaranteed.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
More observations from the Raiders’ exhbition opener against the Rams:
–Defensive end Maxx Crosby sustained a broken hand early in the the game, as reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal and The Athletic. A source said Crosby, a fourth-round pick who the Raiders view as a nickel pass rusher, will be ready for Week 1 of the regular season.
— With Gabe Jackson out approximately two months after a left MCL strain on Thursday, Denver Kirkland opened at right guard against the Rams (Jackson wouldn’t have played anyway) and his 45 snaps was second only to tackle Brandon Parker’s 63 among offensive linemen.
But Kirkland isn’t necessarily the front-runner to open the season in place of Jackson. That would be Jordan Devey, the veteran signed as an unrestricted free agent who opened the game at center.
“We need somebody to take control of that right guard position while Gabe is out,” Gruden said. “Jordan Devey is going to get the first crack at it and rightfully so. He’s a veteran player, he’s been around the league, but Kirkland is going to bring something to the position as well.”
— Despite having seemingly secure roster spots, defensive tackle Maurice Hurst and defensive end Arden Key each played 33 snaps and were in the game in the fourth quarter.
“We’re running out of players,” Gruden said. “We have Eddie Vanderdoes and Gabe Wright, P.J. Hall, we got a number of guys that are in the training room. We’ve got some guys, like Justin Ellis, that we didn’t want playing today.
In all, 29 of the 90 players on the roster did not play.
“I think we still have a lot of room for improvement,” Hurst said. “Just getting our feet wet. Getting out there and trying to do our technique as best as we can. We’re just going to keep getting better as the games go on.”
— Anthony Rush, a 6-foot-5, 350 pound defensive tackle from Alabama-Birmingham, played 32 snaps and had three tackles. Two were on running plays, and one was a tackle for loss. Rush is at a crowded position on the depth chart but impressed Gruden.
“He shows that he can push the pocket,” Gruden said. “He’s not one-dimensional. It’s good to have some size inside.”
— Cornerback Nevin Lawson played a team-high 52 snaps and had four tackles, one behind team-leader Marquel Lee, and also had a special teams stop. He drew one pass interference flag and was competitive on routes even when he was beaten for completions. Lawson said on Twitter he is facing a four-game suspension to start the season after violating the NFL policy on performance enhancing drugs.
— Hamp Cheevers, a 5-foot-11, 180-pound cornerback, was claimed off waivers from the Atlanta Falcons. Cheevers was signed as an undrafted free agent by Tennesee in May, released, and then signed with Atlanta. Cheevers played in the Falcons’ first preseason game.
In three seasons and 30 games at Boston College from 2016-2018, Cheevers had nine interceptions and in his final season was named first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference. Cornerback D.J. Killings was placed on injured reserve in a corresponding move.