SportsPulse: NFL insider Jarrett Bell goes to Napa, Calif., for Oakland Raiders camp to see if Jon Gruden can revitalize the franchise as well as the latest with Khalil Mack’s potential holdout.
When healthy and when his focus is on the field, Martavis Bryant is one of the most explosive receivers in the NFL.
So far, however, his transition to the Oakland Raiders – who acquired him in an April trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers for a third-round draft selection (No. 79 overall) – hasn’t been smooth. He has shown flashes in training camp, but missed a practice last week due to an illness.
“He’s got to get out here and play better,” Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said Saturday. “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 here. 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.”
Amari Cooper remains the top target for quarterback Derek Carr, and with the signing of receiver Jordy Nelson, whom the Packers released earlier this offseason, Bryant is still finding his role in the offense.
Bryant, entering his fifth season in the NFL, was suspended the entire 2016 year for a violation of the league’s substance-abuse policy. Standing at 6-foot-4 with excellent speed, Bryant could develop into a big-play threat for Oakland.
“I’m not saying he’s behind, I’m just saying he’s got to be more versatile,” Gruden continued. “I’m not going to say anything more than that. He’s in a competitive situation. Nothing is going to be given to anybody. It 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, and he’s got to be more consistent. And I’m confident he will.”
Bryant, 26, has 17 career touchdown receptions, despite catching only 126 passes and has also totaled 1,917 career yards.