The Raiders went into this season with high hopes they would have a terrific wide receiver corps. With Amari Cooper, former Packers standout Jordy Nelson and former Steelers’ deep threat Martavis Bryant, the thinking was that Jon Gruden’s offense would be able to stretch defenses and attack secondaries.
But Cooper started slow and was traded, and Nelson and Bryant have missed several games to injury. A dozen games into this season – and with a 2-10 record – the Raiders’ top two receivers are tight end Jared Cook (54 catches, 709 yards) and running back Jalen Richard (56, 478). Nelson has produced more lately, with 35 overall catches for 450 yards.
But Bryant never really got any momentum and caught just 19 passes for 266 yards and zero touchdowns. Now, the Raiders have placed him on injured reserve (knee ligament damage), and his season officially is over.
When the Raiders take on the 7-4-1 Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday at home, only Nelson will still be around from that preseason trio.
Quarterback Derek Carr said he was constantly impressed by Bryant’s talent in practice, but it never translated into big-time, consistent production on the field in 2018.
“There is a lot of potential there,” Carr told Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Potential is a tough word in the football business. He definitely has potential. He has something that a lot of people don’t have. I think we’ve all seen that, especially in camp. Hitting him on some deep balls, hitting him on some big, explosive plays.
“Even in games that we have played together, hitting on some big plays. There is so much that you just want to untap, and hopefully, we’ll get to do that for a lot of years together.”
Bryant, however, is signed just through the end of this season with the Raiders, and is likely to move on to another team in 2019.
The Raiders-Broncos game Sunday is set to kick off at 1:25 p.m. Oddsmakers have listed the Steelers as 10-point favorites.