Gruden’s thoughts on Bryant were far less complimentary. Here’s what Gruden told the media about Bryant on the same day, via The Mercury News.
“He’s got to get out here and play better. He’s in a competitive situation, and right now there are a lot of other receivers that have had a nice camp. He’s had illnesses, he’s got to master the offense and be more versatile. And that’s the key to making this team better.”
Those comments read like a kick in the butt. Honeymoon. Over.
Bryant forced his way off the Pittsburgh Steelers in part because he was growing discontent with his decreased role in an offense which included receivers Antonio Brown and JuJu Schuster-Smith and running back Le’Veon Bell. So the Steelers traded him to the Raiders this offseason.
The Raiders’ depth chart, however, is only slightly less competitive with receivers Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson and running backs Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin. Perhaps Gruden is sending Bryant a message that he’s not entitled to a role in Oakland and that he may be on his way to ending up in a similar situation as he was in Pittsburgh. The good news, for now, is that Bryant seems to have a stronger rapport with Gruden than he did with Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.
Rapport won’t earn Bryant snaps in Gruden’s offense. The troubled receiver will have to put in the work — just like everyone else — to make sure he’s catching passes from Derek Carr on Sundays.