The Raiders put up an admirable fight in Sunday’s 33-40 defeat to the Kansas City Chiefs. While Jordy Nelson and Jared Cook combined for 17 receptions for 197 yards and a touchdown, Oakland’s lack of athleticism at wide receiver was apparent. Could you imagine if Derek Carr had a weapon that could effectively stretch the field and create match-up problems for defenses on the outside?
That player was supposed to be Martavis Bryant, whom Gruden traded a third round pick to the Steelers to acquire in the off-season. At the time of the deal, Gruden said Bryant would “bring a different dynamic” to the Raiders offense. Instead, he would be given the monicker the “White Tiger” and for most of this has remained in his cage for most of the season.
The fourth-year receiver has been hampered by injury — the most recent being a PCL injury that has had him out the past three weeks. He returned limited to practice Friday but would ultimately miss Sunday’s game. Gruden isn’t sure when he will return.
“I have no sense, common sense or sense on Bryant,” Gruden replied when asked when Bryant would be healthy again.
Even when he’s been available, Bryant has made a minimal impact for the Silver & Black recording just 19 receptions for 266 yards and zero touchdowns on the season.
Still, Gruden insists if Bryant ever returns to the field, he has plays installed for the wide receiver to succeed.
“We have a lot of plays,” Gruden said. “When the players are healthy, it’s a lot more fun to use some of the plays. Hopefully, like I said, Martavis Bryant can start using some of his plays because they’re getting stale in my office.”
After struggling to grasp the playbook the entire off-season, it is worth wondering how limited Gruden’s plays are for Bryant.
The trade for Bryant was widely criticized at the time of the transaction. Seven months later, the doubters have not been proven wrong. There are four games left this season to see if Bryant can dust off those plays Gruden is holding for him.