The Antonio Brown saga has taken another turn … and another … and another. In fact, it has been difficult to stay on top of the AB news blurbs no matter how plugged in you might be. It was just a little over a week ago that beat writers and fantasy players began to grow concerned about Brown's status. The Raiders' top receiver still wasn't practicing due to a foot injury, but no one seemed to know exactly what happened. A reportedly frustrated HC Jon Gruden just wanted to "get the party started," but instead, Brown was sent to visit a foot specialist.
Soon after Brown reportedly got good news regarding his foot issue, it was reported the cause of the problem was actually frostbite due to Brown's use of a cryotherapy machine. I wish that was the strangest part of the story. While few medical experts seemed concerned about Brown's availability due to the foot "injury," Brown reportedly went "radio silent." Of course, this is a concern because that was the beginning of the end of his time in Pittsburgh.
While some local beat reporters were suggesting Brown would soon rejoin the team, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Brown had filed a grievance against the league, appealing the ban of his helmet style. This was the first we'd heard of this issue, but it would prove to be a major sticking point for Brown. This has evidently been an ongoing issue. The league chose to no longer certify Brown's preferred helmet, which was also worn by QBs Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. The veterans were given a year to make the transition away from the helmet. Brown has reportedly been told multiple times this offseason that he would no longer be allowed to wear his helmet of choice, yet he persisted and tried to "sneak" his helmet into practice sessions.
The helmet and Brown's focus on it have reportedly caused a "disconnect" between he and his teammates and Brown reportedly told the team he would step away from football if he was not allowed to wear his helmet. The wideout has also claimed he plans to hold the NFL liable for any head injury he suffers while wearing the new helmet.
Yesterday, the NFL ruled against Brown, denying his grievance to wear his helmet of choice. No surprise here, but the decision left the ball in Brown's court and he wasted no time in responding. Brown released a statement saying he was "looking forward to rejoining teammates." With his threats to retire now evidently a thing of the past, Brown's fantasy value should quickly bounce back, but there are still plenty of concerns. Brown's foot injury is still not allowing him to practice with new teammates, namely QB Derek Carr. The expected downgrade from Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger to Carr is also reason to doubt Brown and his current second-round ADP.
Week One Pre-Season Recap
The weekend also brought us the conclusion of the pre-season Week One slate with five games on Friday and Saturday. Here's a quick look at what you might have missed.
Tampa Bay- 28
QB Jameis Winston showed us a glimpse of what we can expect from the Tampa offense under new HC Bruce Arians this season, leading a scoring drive on his only series. He found WR Chris Godwin for the nine-yard touchdown to give the Bucs the early lead. Godwin was busy on the opening drive, catching both of his targets for 20 yards and the score. The battle to watch in Tampa involves RBs Ronald Jones and Peyton Barber. Both were involved and both were effective early. Each back rushed for 18 yards on limited touches in this game.
The backup quarterback job is up for grabs in Pittsburgh and both Joshua Dobbs and Mason Rudolph performed well. Rudolph threw a pair of touchdown passes while Dobbs led the team in rushing with 44 yards. WR James Washington is also battling to be the starter alongside JuJu Smith-Schuster. Washington led the team with four receptions for 84 yards and a touchdown.
New Orleans- 25
The Vikings' offense was in mid-season form in their debut, kicked off by starting QB Kirk Cousins leading a touchdown drive before exiting. While RB Dalvin Cook did not play, his backups were solid against the Saints. Rookie RB Alexander Mattison rushed nine times for 30 yards and a touchdown and playmaking RB Mike Boone totaled 70 yards rushing after he broke a run for a 64-yard score.
Like every other NFL team, the Saints sat most of their key players for the majority of the game. Backup QB Teddy Bridgewater started the game and played the first half, passing for one touchdown to TE Dan Arnold. Rookie WR Lil'Jordan Humphrey broke free for a 33-yard score in the second half.
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Kansas City- 38
Both the Bengals and Chiefs began the game with touchdown drives that consumed nearly the entire first quarter. QB Andy Dalton and the Bengals dinked and dunked their way to a 75-yard drive, capped off by a goal line score by rookie RB Trayveon Williams. The Chiefs answered with their drive highlighted by a 36-yard catch and run from TE Travis Kelce. The drive ended with a one-yard scoring run from RB Carlos Hyde.
The Chiefs starters left the game following that drive but the team speed remained. Rookie WR Mecole Hardman and RB Darwin Thompson each showed off their jets on scoring plays. Thompson totaled 51 yards, including a 29-yard touchdown catch, while Hardman added 31 yards and a score on two receptions.
Bengals rookie QB Ryan Finley easily outplayed QB Jeff Driskel and is now reportedly in line to earn a roster spot over the veteran.
Los Angeles Rams- 3
Veteran QB Mike Glennon drew the start for the Raiders and struggled through the first half, tossing a pair of interceptions. He was so bad that Nathan Peterman easily outplayed him. Peterman played the second half and threw a touchdown pass after a long 50-yard run. He led Oakland to the win and led his team in rushing with 56 yards.
Rookie RB Darrell Henderson has been a hotly-debated player this offseason but he looks to be the clear third-string back for the Rams. While RBs Todd Gurley and Malcolm Brown sat, Henderson played into the third-quarter, totaling eight yards on seven touches.
San Francisco- 17
With no Ezekiel Elliott, rookie RB Tony Pollard drew the start and the veteran treatment, playing one series in this game before exiting. The same goes for QB Dak Prescott, who led Dallas on a scoring drive before heading to the sidelines.
The 49ers have multiple talented quarterbacks and both Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard played well but their young receivers stole the show. Third-round pick WR Jalen Hurd hauled in a pair of touchdowns among his 31 yards and WR Deebo Samuel caught a pair of balls for 61 yards.
49ers placed OT Shon Coleman (leg/ankle) on the injured reserve list…Browns WR Jarvis Landry returned to a full practice. … WR Emmanuel Sanders had offseason ankle surgery, along with his recovery from a torn Achilles. Broncos HC Vic Fangio expects Sanders to suit up in the preseason. … Bengals WR John Ross (hamstring) hopes to return to practice next week. … Rookie WR N'Keal Harry is dealing with multiple injuries and could miss the entire preseason. The Patriots seem confident they will have Harry back for Week One. … Cowboys WR Amari Cooper (heel) is day to day. … Titans TE Jonnu Smith (knee) has been cleared to begin side work at practice. … Browns TE David Njoku (knee) missed practice. … New Texans RB Duke Johnson (hamstring) won't play this week against Detroit. … Colts QB Andrew Luck (calf) will not practice again this week. … Colts rookie WR Parris Campbell suffered a setback with his injured hamstring. … 49ers RB Jerick McKinnon (knee) is expected to begin the season on the IR list. … Falcons WR Calvin Ridley (hamstring) is expected to practice this week. … Packers WR Equanimeous St. Brown (knee) left practice early. … Bears WR Anthony Miller is dealing with a sprained ankle. … Rookie WR A.J. Brown was able to return to practice after missing much of camp with a hamstring issue. … Broncos RB Theo Riddick suffered a fractured shoulder and will miss up to two months.
The Redskins continue to stand firm with plans not to trade holdout OT Trent Williams, who has said he will never play for Washington again. … Browns beat writers have suggested RB Dontrell Hilliard could serve in the role left by RB Duke Johnson, the pass-catching back. … The Panthers are reportedly looking for a backup RB that can take a lot of the short-yard and goal-line work from starter Christian McCaffrey…Cowboys QB Dak Prescott has reportedly turned down a contract paying him $30 million per year. … Veteran WR Rishard Matthews announced his retirement…The Patriots traded for former Falcons TE Eric Saubert, giving up a conditional seventh-round pick. … 49ers HC Kyle Shanahan insisted WR Dante Pettis would have to compete for his starting role. … Seahawks HC Pete Carroll suggested RB Chris Carson will be much more involved in the passing game this season. … The Ravens dealt K Kaare Vedvik to the Vikings for a 2020 fifth-round pick. … The Browns signed TE Rico Gathers. … Dallas GM Jerry Jones suggested rookie RB Tony Pollard is capable of "carrying the load" for the Cowboys.