NAPA – Antonio Brown tossed on a Raiders helmet and jersey Sunday morning and went out for practice. The superstar receiver ran a few routes in a walk-through period, caught a pass or four from quarterback Derek Carr and was back in the field house before team stretching.
The cameo was long enough to necessitate pulling him off the non-football injury list. Brown formally passed his physical and was cleared for practice, though the Raiders plan to ease him back into action.
That makes sense. There's no point in pushing Brown at this early stage, with nothing on the line for six full weeks.
While Brown was technically back at practice, he was barely back in action. His active period was short, before he joined his wife and sons in the VIP tent when things went full speed. He went from jersey to sweats back to a jersey again to end Sunday's session on the sidelines with his team.
It's uncertain when Brown's activity will increase, though it's tough to imagine him practicing fully for the first time in a padded session. The Raiders will do so Monday and Tuesday, before taking Wednesday off. His activity could ramp up slowly, working towards full stride.
The Raiders weren't concerned about a minor, yet undisclosed injury when Brown was placed on NFI list Friday afternoon, and aren't stressed about his summer practices missed.
"I think he's going to be back quickly," offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. "…He looked good to me today in that walk through."
J.J. Nelson flashes speed
The wide receiver signed with the Raiders in unrestricted free agency, and then was quickly moved to the roster bubble. The former Arizona Cardinal must fight to make a squad with Brown, Tyrell Williams, return man Dwayne Harris, Ryan Grant and 2019 fifth-round draft pick Hunter Renfrow in his position group.
Flashing sprinter's speed will help Nelson complete an uphill climb.
"That was a big reason as to why we signed him," Olson said. "He's one of the faster wide receivers in the league, and he certainly still shows it like he did today."
Nelson made two plays deep that show what he can do downfield. He caught a slant over the middle in an early passing period, adjusted to the ball and still broke free for a big gain. A short while later Nelson beat his man down the seam, came back to the ball and made a nice touchdown catch at the goal line.
"The biggest thing with him is he's got great ball skills in terms of catching the ball and he's got great vertical speed," Olson said. "There's things we're going to put him in to try and match up with his skills."
Lester Hayes encourages Isaiah Johnson
Instead of having former players attend a second day of practice, the Raiders had a wine-tasting trip planned for their alumni on Sunday morning. Legendary cornerback Lester Hayes might've been the last guy on the bus for the trip. He was right on the sideline during positional drills trying to help current Raiders cornerbacks.
Hayes got particularly amped when rookie Isaiah Johnson broke up a deep play using his left, non-dominant hand. That's exactly what Hayes encouraged defenders to work on during a Saturday speech, and Johnson clearly listened.
More on-field action
-- While Day 1 of training camp seemingly belonged to the offense, the first-string defense looked much better on Day 2. Early on in one-on-one work, Carr tossed a deep pass intended for Brian Burt, but the receiver was blanketed by Nick Nelson who made an easy interception. Gareon Conley also showed well in one-on-one drills, notching three pass breakups before the practice shifted to 7-on-7. He had a couple of missed opportunities later in team sessions, allowing a few completions even in tight coverage
-- On the offensive side in one-on-one work, tight end Darren Waller ran a terrific out-and-up route and Carr connected with him on a deep pass down the sideline. However, on his next target, Waller dropped a ball that was thrown behind him but probably should have been caught.
-- In 7-on-7 drills, what looks to be the first-string defense played much better, with rookie safety Johnathan Abram dropping two would-be interceptions. Linebacker Jason Cabinda also had a nice pass breakup on a pass intended for Keon Hatcher.
-- The competition for the backup quarterback spot is ongoing, as Nathan Peterman took the bulk of the second string reps Sunday after Mike Glennon got first crack with the second team on Day 1. Olson suggested the two would continue to go back-and-forth throughout camp.
-- Defensive tackle Ronald Ollie did not practice Sunday after leaving Saturday's practice early.
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-- Veteran tight end Luke Wilson drew some laughs early in practice. After catching a slant, Wilson jogged to the end zone, looked at those standing along the back line and shouted "Still got it, man!" before heading back toward midfield.
-- Renfrow continued to impress in his work against veteran Lamarcus Joyner in the slot. The Clemson product has a knack for getting open and has appeared to develop quick rapport with Carr.
NBC Sports Bay Area reporter Josh Schrock contributed to this report.