Antonio Brown was the Oakland Raiders’ biggest acquisition this offseason, easily the star of the Silver and Black’s final farewell chapter in Oakland and the Bay Area.
He’s also becoming the biggest storyline of their preseason, and not in a good way.
The 31-year-old star wideout has already missed a significant portion of training camp and visited a foot specialist on Saturday after starting camp on the Raiders’ non-football injury (NFI) list after what’s being reported as him suffering from sore feet. He participated in a pre-practice walkthrough last Sunday and was limited on Tuesday.
Then he posted a picture of the bottom of his feet nearly halfway peeled off on his Instagram story.
That wasn’t the only one.
That’s disturbing, but you can expect to see more of this on Hard Knocks, which debuts Tuesday night. Brown will likely have his own camera crew following him around in his first year with the Raiders, and it will be interesting to see his side of things after only hearing from his coach and teammates thus far.
“You think every rep you miss is an important time. That’s how I’ve always looked at it,” said QB Derek Carr. “We wish the healing process of whatever is going on [with Brown] will be fast. But at the same time, you can’t rush things for training camp when you know you have a season and hopefully a playoff run to think about. The trainers know way more than any of the players know. We just know that when he does show up, we can’t wait. [We’ll] welcome him with open arms and hopefully, he’s healthy and ready to hit [the ground] running.”
It appears Carr doesn’t know exactly what’s happening with Brown (he said he hadn’t seen the Instagram post and reportedly recoiled when shown the picture) and head coach Jon Gruden likewise doesn’t seem happy with Brown’s absence.
“I think we’re all disappointed,” Gruden said after practice in quotes published by ESPN. “We think he’s disappointed. We’d like to get the party started. We’d like to get him out here. He’s a big part of the team.
“I want the guy out here as soon as possible. I’d like him to never leave and stay in the huddle every play. But life goes on and you’ve got to continue to work, and the other guys got to take advantage of these opportunities, and so far, they have.”
The first episode of Tuesday’s Hard Knocks on the Raiders will have the traditional share of moments and highlights. Brown’s foot may be a highlight of the show before the man himself. But a word of caution: you may want to skip the snacks.