ENGLEWOOD — Business is not booming. Business is closed and under new management. Antonio Brown is out in Oakland. After a tumultuous three days – a confrontation with the general manager, a YouTube hype video featuring a recorded call from coach Jon Gruden, and his demand for a release on Instagram – the Raiders released the mercurial wide receiver. The story has captivated the NFL. The Broncos? Not as much.
Denver prepared as if Brown was going to play. And selfishly I wanted to see Chris Harris Jr. square off with the All-Pro. Brown is left to philosophize on Twitter, and the Broncos are moving on, predicted as winners by Las Vegas after Saturday's events.
"Oh yeah, I was surprised because usually the best players on the field. But AB wasn't going to play without guaranteed (money in his contract, which was voided after he accumulated fines)," Harris Jr. told me Saturday. "I think it's unfortunate that they couldn't get it right whatever was going on over there. I have been preparing for the confrontation all offseason. I wish everybody would have gotten to see it."
Coach Vic Fangio joked that the players knew of Brown's dismissal before he did. It didn't impact the game plan because the Broncos have been working on two fronts: one with Brown in the fold and one without him.
"It’s just as if he was on the inactive list or suspended list or was hurt. We just have to go out there and play their team. They have a good team. They’ve made a lot of revisions to their team with a lot of acquisitions from the draft and free agency," Fangio said. "It’s going to be a hell of a test out there for us.”
Big Moment for Big D
Dalton Risner's plan for Monday is simple. Wake up. Pinch self. He begins living his dream in earnest when he makes his debut against Oakland. He grew up as a Broncos fan, lived the rivalry. Now, he gets his chance to make a difference.
"I have to find that balance between a pinch-me moment and controlling my emotions. But it's going to be awesome," said Risner, before adding. "We want to be physical. When I am out there on the field, my dad taught it's time to flip the switch. I am out there for business. I am not out there to make friends. I want to put guys in the dirt."
Todd Davis (calf) was listed as doubtful on the injury report. The expectation is that he will not play. That leaves Josey Jewell calling the defensive signals and the Broncos using Alexander Johnson and Corey Nelson in Davis' place. ... Fangio said that practice squad players will travel. And the plan is for injured quarterback Drew Lock to travel as well. Why is that beneficial? "It’s a crumb here and there. Crumbs can add up and make a loaf of bread," he said.