weather icon Clear

Raiders expect WR Antonio Brown back soon

Updated August 9, 2019 - 7:42 pm

NAPA, Calif. — The Raiders are optimistic Antonio Brown is ready to wear a helmet.

Their star wide receiver is expected to rejoin the club at its training camp headquarters in the near future, a team official said. Brown has not participated in a full practice this camp, missing 10 of 11 sessions in their entirety. A foot ailment that forced him to begin camp on the nonfootball injury list is largely considered a nonissue moving forward.

His feet aren’t what caused the latest absences.

Brown has avoided the Raiders’ facility amid a heated dispute against the NFL’s helmet policy, several people familiar with his thinking have said. On July 30, he wore a league-prohibited helmet during his lone camp practice and departed Napa shortly thereafter.

In between, his helmet usage was broached — and not for the first time this offseason.

Although this is not a team policy, it falls on NFL clubs to ensure that players don’t conduct football activities in helmets that fail to meet the league’s safety standards. Such is the NFL’s directive: All equipment must be certified by the National Operating Committee for Standards and Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE).

This was conveyed to Brown on multiple occasions.

NOCSAE neither has allowed nor tested Brown’s helmet model because it is older than 10 years, a source said.

The NFL has worked with the Raiders to move Brown into a helmet deemed acceptable. On Friday, ESPN reported Brown has told the team he’ll retire if he cannot wear his preferred one. Given the Raiders’ belief Brown soon will report, it’s possible this retirement sentiment does not reflect Brown’s current stance.

After all, Brown would lose substantial money if he followed through with it.

The Raiders acquired him in March from the Pittsburgh Steelers, signing him to a more lucrative contract to complete the swap. The three-year deal is worth $50.125 million and includes $30.125 million guaranteed. Brown would lose those guarantees.

On Friday, Brown remotely participated in a Philadelphia-based conference call where an independent arbitrator heard his case, a league source said. Representatives from the NFL and player union also participated, and the arbitrator’s ruling is expected next week, a source said.

Brown’s helmet in question appears to be a Schutt Air Advantage.

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University regards this model as a “two-star” helmet on a five-star safety system.

“It’s not something we recommend people wear,” said Dr. Stefan Duma, a helmet safety expert and founding director of Virginia Tech Wake Forest Center for Injury Biomechanics. “It’s an older helmet. Simply put, it has less padding. It’s smaller, thinner. So if you get hit in the head, you’re going to have higher … concussion risk compared to a bigger, newer helmet that has more padding.”

In a phone interview Friday morning, Duma identified Brown’s helmet as likely a Schutt Air Advantage after being shown video of Brown practicing July 30.

He acknowledged the helmet carries certain specifications that could explain the seven-time Pro Bowler’s attachment.

“It’s smaller, and it’s lighter,” Duma said. “That comes with a price. That comes with less padding, but I don’t want to speak for him. I imagine when you’ve played for so long, you’re just used to that. … There are 15 different five-star helmets out there. He can pick any one he likes. He’s just not allowed to wear that one.”

In April, the NFL and NFL Players Association announced the results of a joint research effort, which explored how 40 different helmet models managed to reduce head impact upon force testing. Thirty-four of those 40 models were concluded to have passed the test. The six others were labeled “banned.”

Schutt Air Advantage was not expressly banned because, on account of its age, it wasn’t included in the study.

A void has been felt in Napa this month.

J.J. Nelson, not Brown, has seen extensive work as the Raiders’ “Z” receiver opposite Tyrell Williams. And although Nelson has filled in admirably, creating big plays with his speed, there is no comparison to the dynamic Brown provides. Brown is a seemingly endless supply of energy and explosion, his technique as a route runner routinely pushing and sharpening the club’s defensive backs.

So, it’s not just the offense feeling the effects of Brown’s absence.

It’s the team.

“Yeah, when he is on the field, it’s completely different, you know what I’m saying?” quarterback Derek Carr said this week when asked to contextualize Brown’s missed time. “He’s somebody that changes the way defenses play. He’s someone that changes, obviously, what coach (Jon Gruden) will call for him and things like that. So you definitely wish he was out there.

“But we’ve had a lot of time on task, so it’s not like, ‘What’s the unknown?’ We know what it is, and we know that when he is healthy and when we get him back, we will be rolling.”

The Raiders next practice Monday and Tuesday.

They are hopeful Brown won’t be long.

More Raiders: Follow at reviewjournal.com/Raiders and @NFLinVegas on Twitter.

Contact reporter Michael Gehlken at mgehlken@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GehlkenNFL on Twitter.

Don't miss the latest Raiders news. Like our Vegas Nation page
Raiders Videos
Antonio Brown Back With Raiders on Final Day of Training Camp - VIDEO
Wide Receiver Antonio Brown was back with the Raiders in Napa for the final day of Training Camp, just one day after General Manager Mike Mayock commented on Brown's status with the team. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vontaze Burfict talks defense, Paul Guenther details preseason strategy - VIDEO
Raiders Linebacker Vontaze Burfict describes his leadership on this years defense. Defensive Coordinator Paul Guenther details his preseason strategy with new players and Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson talks about Derek Carr's growth. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mike Mayock comments on Antonio Brown's recurring absence from camp - VIDEO
General Manager Mike Mayock seemingly gave Antonio Brown an ultimatum after the receiver yet again disappeared from the teams training camp in Napa, CA. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Derek Carr talks receiver depth while rookie Josh Jacobs gets praise - VIDEO
After practice Raiders Quarterback Derek Carr talked about the current depth of the receiver position. Head Coach Jon Gruden and Wide Receiver Tyrell Williams had a lot of praise for rookie Running Back Josh Jacobs and his offensive versatility. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Potential grass Raiders will play on being tested out by stadium crew - Video
The Raiders have yet to decide which grass they will choose as the turf the team plays on when it comes to Las Vegas in 2020, but the testing process is already underway at Allegiant Stadium. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Vs. Cardinals Post Game Press conference
The Oakland Raiders came away with a preseason 33-26 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday night. Raiders head coach Jon Gruden talks to media after the game.
Raiders defense steps up in win over Cardinals - Video
The Oakland Raiders came away with a preseason 33-26 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday night. Vegas Nation host Cassie Soto and Raiders beat writer for the Las Vegas Review-Journal Myles Simmons discuss three takeaways from the win.
Vegas Nation Mailbag August 15, 2019
The Review-Journal's Heidi Fang and Ed Graney are back for a new rendition of the Vegas Nation mailbag! Send in your Raiders questions, and they'll answer them live on the stream.
Derek Carr and Jon Gruden talk Antonio Brown Return - VIDEO
Raiders Quarterback Derek Carr talks to the media about Antonio Brown's return to Napa. Head Coach Jon Gruden talks roster cuts and Brown's appearance. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Training Camp Day 12 Wrap Up - VIDEO
Michael and Myles discuss Antonio Brown's surprise appearance at Raiders Training Camp. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Antonio Brown Full Press Conference - VIDEO
Raiders Wide Receiver Antonio Brown showed up late to Tuesday's practice in Napa, California and addressed his current situations in the Raiders press conference. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Preseason Game 1 Wrap Up - VIDEO
Heidi, Adam and Michael discuss everything that happened during the Raiders first and final preseason game in Oakland,CA (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jon Gruden talks preseason excitement, Peterman and Doss TD connection
Raiders Head Coach Jon Gruden talks about the competition and excitement of preseason games. Nathan Peterman and Keelan Doss talk about their touchdown connection in Doss' hometown. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raider Fans say HBO Hard Knocks got them pumped for the season
With the Oakland Raiders being featured on HBO's Hard Knocks, the Review-Journal's Heidi Fang asked fans at training camp in Napa what they thought about the team being on the show, how their team was portrayed and their reactions to what they saw. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jon Gruden Talks Plans for Saturday's Preseason Game - VIDEO
Best of the press conference after day 2 of joint Practices with the Los Angeles Rams from Napa, CA. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Training Camp Day 11: Day 2 of Joint Practice with the Rams - VIDEO
Adam and Michael discuss everything from the final day of practice before the first preseason game against the Los Angeles Rams. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rams talk about skirmishes with the Raiders - Video
On the second day of the Los Angeles Rams and Oakland Raiders joint practices at training camp in Napa, skirmishes broke out between the teams. Rams coach Sean McVay, cornerback Marcus Peters and defensive tackle Aaron Donald talk about what happened on the field when push came to shove. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rams QB Jared Goff gives the Raiders some advice for Hard Knocks - VIDEO
After a joint practice at the Raiders NFL training camp in Napa, Rams quarterback Jared Goff gave some advice for the Raiders who are being featured on HBO's Hard Knocks. Running back Todd Gurley spoke about the Raiders rookie running back Josh Jacobs and head coach Sean McVay spoke about Lamarcus Joyner and Antonio Brown. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Training Camp LA Rams first joint practice - VIDEO
The Oakland Raider had their first joint practice with the La Rams before Saturdays first NFL preseason matchup. The Review-Journal's Michael Gehlken and Adam Hill breakdown recap the days practice.
Raider The Dog - Video
Raider The Dog gave a demonstration of his suspect apprehension abilities at Raiders Training Camp after practice in Napa. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Best of Sound Day 9
The best of Jon Gruden's press conference after day 9 of Raiders Training Camp from Napa, CA
Wrap Up Day 9 - VIDEO
Adam and Michael wrap up day 9 of Raiders Training Camp from Napa,CA before the first episode of HBO's Hard Knocks airs.
Allegiant celebrates naming deal with tailgate party
Allegiant Air employees celebrate with a tailgate party after the company’s naming deal with the Raiders for the new Las Vegas stadium.
Raiders Topping Ceremony of Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas - Video
The Raiders held a topping ceremony in Las Vegas where the last beam to connect the last roof truss was hoisted into the stadium frame. The team also announced their naming rights partner, Allegiant Air. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Day 8 Wrap Up - VIDEO
Michael and Adam wrap up day 8 of Raiders Training Camp from Napa, CA
Day 7 Raiders Wrap Up - VIDEO
Michael and Adam wrap up an easy day 7 of Raiders Training Camp from Napa,CA
A look at the Raiders headquarters under construction in Henderson
Don Webb, chief operating officer of the LV Stadium Co., gives the Review-Journal a tour of the Raiders headquarters under construction in Henderson. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Training Camp Wrap Up Day 4 - VIDEO
Michael discusses everything that went on in day 4 of Raiders Training Camp before the players first day off.
Linebacker Brandon Marshall says the Raiders going to Las Vegas is a dream come true
A Cimarron-Memorial product who now plays linebacker for the Oakland Raiders says he'll do everything in his power to be a part of the 2020 roster that will play in his hometown of Las Vegas. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Training Camp Day 3 Wrap Up - VIDEO
Ed and Michael discuss the Raiders first practice in pads from Napa, Ca.
Raiders offensive line a focus at training camp
During the offseason, the Oakland Raiders looked to bolster their offensive line with the addition of offensive tackle Trent Brown. Offensive coordinator Greg Olson, tackles Brown and Kolton Miller, and running back Doug Martin talked about how the o-line is shaping up during training camp.
Raiders Training Camp Day 2 Wrap Up - VIDEO
Ed Graney and Michael Gehlken discuss what they saw on the second day of Raiders training camp from Napa, Ca.
MGM Resorts views Las Vegas stadium as opportunity
MGM Resorts International intends to offer tailgating experiences at its resorts before and after events at Raiders stadium. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mayock discusses signing Incognito
Raiders GM Mike Mayock speaks to media regarding the team signing Richie Incognito.
Raiders mailbag: Antonio Brown and other players to watch — VIDEO

Who are the Top 5 players to watch in the 2019 season? What are the latest developments in the Antonio Brown helmet saga? And what can fans expect in the Raiders’ second preseason opponent, the Arizona Cardinals?