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Raiders receiver Antonio Brown loses grievance over helmet

Oakland Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown is shown during an NFL football minicamp in Alameda last June. 

ALAMEDA — Oakland Raiders receiver Antonio Brown lost his grievance with the NFL on Monday over his use of an old helmet that is no longer certified as safe to use for practice or play.

The arbitrator issued the ruling after holding a hearing last Friday with Brown, representatives from the league and the players' union.

"While I disagree with the arbitrator's decision, I'm working on getting back to full health and looking forward to rejoining my teammates on the field," Brown said in a statement on Twitter . "I'm excited about this season appreciate all the concerns about my feet."

Brown has not participated in a full practice for the Raiders after starting training camp on the non-football injury list with injuries to his feet that reportedly came from frostbite suffered while getting cryotherapy treatment in France. Brown was cleared to practice on July 28 and participated in part of two sessions but wasn't around the team last week when he had the grievance hearing with the NFL over his helmet.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy earlier in the day reiterated the league's stance that Brown wouldn't be allowed to practice or play without a certified helmet.

"The player can't practice or play in games with equipment that's not approved," McCarthy wrote. "If he doesn't play or practice he is in breach of his contract and doesn't get paid. NFL policy is that helmets have to be certified by NOSCAE. They don't certify equipment that's (older) than 10 years."

The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment sets performance and test standards for equipment. Brown's Schutt Air Advantage helmet is no longer allowed because the NFL follows the National Athletic Equipment Reconditioners Association (NAERA) rule that helmets 10 years or older cannot be recertified.

Schutt discontinued making the helmet three years ago because current technology had moved past it, according to the company.

Brown was one of 32 players using helmets last season that are now banned by the league and players' association. Those players, including Tom Brady, were able to use the helmets last season under a grace period but were required to make the change in 2019.

The Raiders didn't practice Monday but are hoping to get Brown back on the field soon.

"The helmet thing is a personal matter to him," coach Jon Gruden said Saturday. "He has a strong feeling about what he's worn on his head, and we're supporting him. We understand the league's position as well, so we're in a tough spot."

Brown has been the game's most prolific receiver the past six years but the Raiders were able to acquire him from Pittsburgh for just a third- and fifth-round pick in March because of problems off the field.

49ers rookies show flashes

SANTA CLARA — Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd showed flashes in the exhibition opener of the ability that led the San Francisco 49ers to take the two receivers on the second day of this year's NFL draft.

Samuel provided some big plays down the field and Hurd caught two touchdown passes as both rookies make their case for getting significant playing time when the regular season starts.

The Niners have only one receiver on the roster with more than 130 career catches in veteran Jordan Matthews, who isn't assured a spot on the roster when the season starts. So the opportunity is there to seize the chance but it will take more than a few highlights in the preseason to win over coach Kyle Shanahan.

"I want someone to take the job and make it to where it's extremely obvious," Shanahan said. "We haven't had that yet. We have a bunch of young guys who are extremely hungry, and they are going for it. We've got some other guys who have been here who have also been that way, but I think guys are very evenly matched right now and I want someone to step it up.

"The rookies, they made some good plays, but they also weren't very consistent either. There's lots of parts about their game that they have to clean up, and I thought it was very similar in the veterans, too."

Hurd provided the biggest highlights, bowling over a defender at the goal line on a 20-yard touchdown catch in the first half and then leaping over one for a 4-yard TD in the second half. Hurd also hesitated on a pass in the second half, contributing to an interception by C.J. Beathard, inconsistency that could be expected from a player who began his college career as a running back before switching to receiver and becoming a third-round draft pick.

Hurd's performance playing out of the slot was especially important because the projected top player at that position, Trent Taylor, had surgery to repair a broken bone in his foot Friday and could miss the start of the season.

Hurd, who is listed at 6-foot-4, 227 pounds, offers impressive size in the slot where smaller players usually thrive.

"We bring the physicality in the group," Samuel said. "You can see with his big frame and with his body it is going to take more than one person to bring him down."

Samuel also showed flashes of why he was a second-round pick, making an impressive 45-yard catch down field, drawing a 25-yard pass interference call and showing his ability in space on a 14-yard run.

He picked up where he left off in practice leading up to the first exhibition game against Dallas.

"It's just not too big for Deebo," Shanahan said. "He's very competitive. He's a good wide receiver, but he's one of the more physical guys out there."

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