On paper, the addition of former Steelers standout wide receiver Martavis Bryant this offseason looked like a terrific gamble for the Raiders.
Though Bryant had his problems with the Steelers, including injuries and suspensions (for allegedly violating the NFL’s policy against banned substances), the big, fast wideout is talented and could give Oakland a nice trio of front-line pass catchers in combination with Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson.
But so far in this training camp, Bryant has not impressed head coach Jon Gruden with his play on the field or the fact he’s missed some time with illness.
In fact, Gruden called out Bryant this weekend, according to Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
“He’s got to get out here and play better,” Gruden told reporters. “He’s in a competitive situation. Right now, a lot of the other receivers have had a nice camp. He’s just got to learn the offense. He’s got to stay out there. He’s had some illnesses. He’s got to get on the field. He’s got to master the offense and become more versatile, and that’s the key to making this team better.”
Former Cowboy Ryan Switzer and rookie Marell Ateman have had strong training camps so far, and Seth Roberts, Johnny Holton and Dwayne Harris are in the mix.
If Bryant wants to earn a roster spot and snaps, he needs to turn things around quickly, Gruden said.
“Nothing is going to be given to anybody,” Gruden told Gehlken. “It doesn’t matter how you got here and what your history card says. We need to understand the best players are going to play and he’s got to be more consistent. And I’m confident he will.”
Bryant, 26, caught 50 passes last season in Pittsburgh for 603 yards and three touchdowns. He missed all of 2016 because of suspension.