Gruden: 'The plan' is for Antonio Brown to play Monday

The wheel of chaos in Oakland continues to spin around Antonio Brown.

A day after the Raiders were prepared to plow into Week 1 sans the star receiver, plans have flipped a 180.

On Thursday, coach Jon Gruden told people Brown was not in the team's plans for Monday, and the organization was considering suspending the receiver after a verbal altercation with general manager Mike Mayock.

On Friday, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that now there is a real chance that Brown not only avoids a suspension but could actually play Monday night versus the Denver Broncos, per sources informed of the situation.

Gruden confirmed that report in speaking with reporters ahead of Friday's practice.

"Antonio is back today. We're really excited about that. We're ready to move on," Gruden said. "He's had a lot of, obviously, time to think about things. We're happy to have him back. I know Raiders nation is excited about that too."

Asked whether Brown will play Monday night against the Broncos, Gruden replied, "That's the plan. That's the plan. Yes."

It's just the latest tire-squealing turnabout in the Brown saga that saw him miss training camp time due to frostbitten feet and a squabble regarding his old helmet.

This week the Raiders fined Brown for missing time. The receiver, incredulous over the punishment, posted a picture on Instagram of the fine letter. Brown then confronted the GM on Wednesday resulting in the blowup in which he unleashed a barrage of curse words at Mayock.

The situation led to speculation that the Raiders could suspend Brown and go after the $30 million guaranteed in his contract for conduct detrimental to the team. Brown was not at practice Thursday.

The turnabout Friday came after Brown addressed the team in a meeting, offering a mea culpa, per Rapoport. 

One thing is certain, despite all the off-field shenanigans surrounding Brown, the Raiders are unequivocally better with him on the field. That fact is why Gruden has gone out of his way to support the receiver through all the twists and turns.

In the NFL, talent outweighs all. Brown playing Monday night is the latest indicator of that maxim.

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