But it goes deeper than that. A lot deeper.
Episode 3 of “Hard Knocks” showed just how much Gruden likes and backs his mercurial receiver, who has battled issues from his head (his well-documented non-certified helmet issues) to his toes (frostbitten feet thanks to a cryotherapy mishap in France last month), with Gruden going deeper in personal conversations with Brown than anything he has said publicly.
“I give the guy credit for standing up for what he believes in,” Gruden says early in the show. “Everybody else does in this country.”
Later, after Brown returned to the team following a two-week sojourn and participated in a walkthrough, Gruden told Brown: “Kinda like having you here. I think it’s going to be all right for us.”
A later conversation caught the two on the practice field, with Gruden asking Brown how his feet felt.
“Once they get real hot, then they get a little burning, but for the most part, I feel good,” Brown said. “Just when it’s really hot, the s— starts to burn. I gotta take my shoes off.”
Gruden laughed, “Why don’t you go to a cryochamber and get …”
“F— that, coach,” Brown shot back. “Not again. Never again.”
Later, Brown told Gruden, “Thanks for supporting me, coach. My f—ing head, the feet, people after me. You’ve been a constant supporter. Thank you.”
“I’ve been there,” Gruden said. “But if you’ve got any problems, anything bothering you …”
“We’re all in this together,” Brown said.
“I know you’ve got a lot of people in your ear because you’re like a corporation that’s kind of gone global,” Gruden said. “But at the end of the day, let’s keep this s— simple, you know what I mean? Football comes first. Everything else is f—ing way behind, you know what I’m saying?”
“Absolutely,” said Brown.
“Because you,” Gruden continued, “you handled all that seamlessly, beautifully.”
Brown was impressed with his coach’s vocabulary, saying, “Seamlessly. I like that word.”
“I was trying to go with a multi-syllable word,” Gruden joked.
“That’s a great word — seamlessly,” Brown laughed.
“Yeah,” Gruden grinned, “three syllables.”
“I gotta look that up,” Brown said.
“They don’t have those at Dayton or Central Michigan,” Gruden joked, referring to the colleges the two attended.
Other show highlights …
Master impressionist Frank Caliendo, at the invitation of quarterback Derek Carr, doing his version of Gruden, to a non-plussed coach. “Why don’t you do something funny here tonight, Frank,” a smiling Gruden shot at him. Caliendo also broke out his Charles Barkley and John Madden.
Rookie safety Johnathan Abram was none too pleased with his “Madden” rating and let the video game adjustors on site know about it.
“Derek Carr is like an 82. [He should be] like a 90!”
— Oakland Raiders (@Raiders) August 16, 2019
“Man, why y’all got my rating so low,” he said. “Why y’all playing like that?”
Told it was because he was young and did not have anything on NFL tape yet, Abram wondered what that meant.
Abram went on to say that his own strength and tackling ratings were too low, while adding he would be better in man-to-man coverage.
Tight end Darren Waller, meanwhile, had no issues with his low rating of 68, saying he had not played enough in the NFL to warrant a higher number.
He also talked of being “clean” for one day shy of two years.
“When I was in Baltimore, I was just like a vegetable,” he said. “I was, like, getting high, literally every day. Whatever I could get my hands on. It was like opiates first, Oxy, pills, stuff like that, Xanax, cocaine, not caring about anything, like any kind of consequences or anything like that … I was super burnt out … I was just like plotting to sabotage myself, my way out of the league so I didn’t look like a quitter, like the league would put me out of my misery and I could go about my business.”
Failed drug tests have limited Waller to a combined 16 games since the start of the 2016 season. He credited Borden Cottage rehab center with transforming him.
Still picture of the show: A shirtless Hunter Renfrow from the combine, which elicited howls from the team after Gruden said the goal was for the Raiders to be “Bigger, faster, better conditioned” athletes.
“You’re at least 37,” Carr told the elder-looking Renfrow, who is 23.
“He plays just like Julian Edelman,” Abram said.
Tight end Luke Willson, who grew up in Windsor, Canada, went sailing off Sausalito with his dad Mike, who once thought an NHL career might be in his son’s future.
“With this hair, man, I think it still is,” the long-coiffed Luke chirped.
“He always wanted to be one of the Hanson Brothers,” replied Mike, referring to the 1977 movie “Slap Shot.”
And while he was not a fan of his self-described skinny calves, Luke was impressed with the Golden Gate Bridge. “Pretty cool f—ing bridge, man.”
“I’m not saying that we handled it the right way, but he’ll kick ass for you. He’s going to help you win a lot of football games.”
Agent Drew Rosenhaus to Jon Gruden about his client, Antonio Brown
Quote of the show: “I’m not saying that we handled it the right way, but he’ll kick ass for you. He’s going to help you win a lot of football games.” – Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, to Gruden.
Gruden’s response: “Yes he will.”
Quote of the show 2: “This lid is ugly as f—, bro.” — Brown, to receiver Keon Hatcher, referring to the helmet he wore in warmups in Arizona.
Quote of the show 3: Brown gets philosophical: “I’m just a young, black skinny kid, working really hard. And it’s starting to pay off.”
Quote of the show 4: “Men lie and women lie, but the analytics don’t.” — Brown, when shown numbers that show how far (958 yards) and fast (12 mph) he ran in a game last season, which he topped in the past two weeks.
Bears kicker Pineiro questionable with knee injury
No such luck.
Pineiro will go into Monday night’s game in Washington questionable on the injury report because of right knee trouble.
Pineiro was hurt Friday, with coach Matt Nagy saying it happened during weightlifting. Pineiro didn’t practice Friday, but did kick on a limited basis at Saturday’s practice.
“Especially after what just happened with us and what we’ve been through (with kickers), and what he just did this past weekend, it’s like we’re on a roll here and then all of a sudden something crazy like this happens,” Nagy said. “But I try to stay positive with it, and I think we’ll be OK. We’ve just got to see how it goes the next couple days.”
The Bears had one other player who was a surprise on the injury report. Safety Eddie Jackson came up with a knee injury in Friday’s practice and was able to go Saturday only on a limited basis. He also is questionable.
The Bears conducted a massive offseason kicking search after Cody Parkey double-doinked a 43-yard field goal miss to end the 16-15 playoff loss to Philadelphia. Parkey was waived.
Chicago brought in nine kickers at one point in the spring, traded a seventh-round draft pick for Pineiro, and then he beat out Elliott Fry to win the kicking job. Pineiro is 4 for 4, including last week’s winner and another 52-yarder against Denver.
“I’m going to be on the cautious side with him, and we’ll just kind of feel out the pain part and if it’s something that’s going to affect him, then we’ll have a decision to make,” Nagy said.
Pineiro didn’t think it was serious at first, according to Nagy.
“Just thought that it was something that was minor, and I think as the time has gone by and then going out there today he just felt it a little bit,” Nagy said. “So we’re just going to pull back and see where it’s at and be optimistic and try to do everything we can to make sure that we’re taking care of it, the pain.”
And if Pineiro can’t kick?
“That’s a good question,” Nagy said. “We’ve got to work through that. I know [punter] Pat O’Donnell has some experience. But we’ll see how this thing goes. I don’t want to rush to judgment yet. That’s not where we’re at.”
At least the Bears know a lot about some of the potential emergency kickers available.
“There are a lot of different scenarios that could happen, but I’m not going down that route,” Nagy said. “I feel good that things will be OK. If they’re not, then we just have to have a contingency plan when that time comes, and if that’s something that we’ve got to do something different, then we’ll do that.”
Jackson’s injury is different than the one he had earlier in the week to go on the injury report. He had a shoulder problem then, but went through a full practice on Friday and then suffered knee soreness afterward. He practiced only on a limited basis Saturday.
Defensive end Bilal Nichols is out for the game due to the broken hand suffered last week.
Pats activate first International Pathway player
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Fullback Jakob Johnson became the first player to enter the NFL through the International Pathway Program to make a 53-man roster when he was promoted from the New England Patriots practice squad on Saturday.
The International Player Pathway Program was instituted in 2017 and aims to provide international athletes the opportunity to compete at the NFL level, improve their skills, and ultimately earn a spot on an NFL roster.
Johnson was born in Stuttgart, Germany and played in 47 games at the University of Tennessee, initially as a linebacker before switching to tight end. In 2018, he appeared in 12 games for the Stuttgart Scorpions of the German Football League.
The Patriots were assigned Johnson as part of the International Pathway Program on April 8. The three other teams in the AFC East were also assigned players as part of a random draw, and none of them counted against the 90-man roster limit.
In 2018, Efe Obada became the first player from the International Pathway Program to make a 53-man roster with the Carolina Panthers, but he didn’t initially enter the NFL through the program. He had signed as a free agent with the Cowboys in 2015 after playing only five games of amateur football with the London Warriors, then was on the Cowboys practice squad before spending time in the 2016 offseason with the Chiefs and Falcons. In 2017, Obada was part of the first class of players in the International Pathway Program, which gave him additional time to develop with the Panthers.
During the season, teams can carry an International Pathway Program player as an extra 11th member of the practice squad, but because of the roster exemption, the clubs could not promote the player to the active roster during the season. In the case of Johnson, the Patriots elected to forgo that option and make him a regular member of their 10-man practice squad, which gave them the option of promoting him.
“Jak came in with a great attitude this offseason,” offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said a few weeks ago. “He really put his head down and worked hard through our offseason program, and then continued to do that in OTAs and into training camp — good attitude, he’s been out there every day, toughness, willing to do the things that you need to do to play that position on offense, smart kid, studies hard, prepares well, knows what to do and is ready to go. And he’s competitive, so I think there’s nothing more you can ask of each player than to give your best and be ready to go when your number’s called.”
The Patriots are one of the few teams in the NFL that still features the fullback, as Develin has played 41.5 percent of the offensive snaps through the first two weeks of the season. Develin also has an important role on the team’s punt coverage unit, which Johnson could also fill.
Browns’ Garrett fined $42K for two Siemian hits
The Browns pass rusher was penalized four times on Monday night, which included two roughing the passer calls. The second resulted in a season-ending ankle injury to Siemian.
“You do not want to put anybody out for the season,” Garrett said earlier this week. “That is their job. That is something that you do not do unless you love it, and you do not want to take that away from anybody. I hope [Siemian] comes back faster and stronger than he ever has. I wish the best for him.”
First of all, I want to wish @TrevorSiemian a speedy recovery. We put our bodies on the line every single snap, and I wouldn’t wish an injury on anyone.
Other than that, great team win but we still have a lot of work to do. So much love to all the fans, onto next week🤟🏾
— Myles “Flash” Garrett ⚡️ (@MylesLGarrett) September 17, 2019
Garrett currently leads the NFL with five sacks.
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