Before the first round of the draft in April was done, the Raiders had made a blockbuster trade, sending a third-round pick to Pittsburgh for often troubled wide receiver Martavis Bryant.
Most of the issues with Bryant were not on-field issues. Clearly Gruden thought highly enough about what he did ON the field to trade for him. Well, thus far it’s fairly clear Gruden has not been pleased with what he’s seen from Bryant in that regard.
“He’s gotta get out here and play better,” Gruden said of Bryant. “He’s gotta get out here. He’s in a competitive situation and right now a lot of the other receivers have had a nice camp. He’s just gotta learn the offense, he’s gotta stay out here. He’s had some illnesses, he’s gotta get on the field, he’s gotta master the offense and become more versatile. That’s the key to making this team better.”
Bryant was brought here for his speed and deep threat ability. But thus far he’s been one of the few receivers on this team not to show he is capable of being much more than that. That apparently is not enough in Gruden’s offense. The head coach added that Bryant has “got to be more versatile.”
Thus far, Bryant is the only one of the Raiders expected receivers who has not shown the ability to go over the middle along with playing the boundary. Amari Cooper, Jordy Nelson, Ryan Switzer, and Seth Roberts have all done both. Even rookie 7th round pick Marcell Ateman has shown some versatility in that regard.
It’s young players like Ateman and Saeed Blacknall who are fighting for a spot on this roster in a wide receiver corps that will carry at most six players. Gruden wants that message to Bryant to be heard loud and clear.
“He’s in a competitive situation,” Gruden continued. “Nothing’s going to be given to anybody. Doesn’t matter how you got here or what your history card says, we need everybody to understand, the best players are going to play. He’s got to be more consistent and I’m confident he will.”
And here we thought that supposed ‘fear of suspension’ business was our only concern with Bryant.