Martavis Bryant relishes second chance with Oakland Raiders
ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — Martavis Bryant is back with the Oakland Raiders and focused on getting up to speed again in coach Jon Gruden’s offense with an eye on playing this Sunday in Denver.
One day after signing a one-year contract to return to Oakland, the 26-year-old Bryant was in a positive and playful mood while speaking to reporters Thursday. He had been acquired in a trade with Pittsburgh in the spring and then released by Oakland earlier this month.
“I was very surprised but at the same time I knew there was a plan,” Bryant said. “I didn’t get overly frustrated. I was with my family the whole time. I honestly didn’t know what was going to happen. I just stayed focused and continued to do the things I needed to do to get back to football.”
Talk has circulated for three months that Bryant could be suspended by the NFL for another violation of the league’s substance-abuse policy. Bryant missed all of 2016 while suspended for the same reason.
The Raiders have avoided discussing the topic publicly. Bryant said he has heard nothing from the NFL.
“I don’t know nothing abut none of that,” Bryant said. “All I’m here to do is play football. As far as that stuff, I’ll let that process take care of itself.”
The Raiders are hoping Bryant can help spark Oakland’s passing game, which was shut down in the second half against the Los Angeles Rams on Monday night.
That was the original plan when they traded a third-round pick to the Steelers to get Bryant before heath issues prevented the veteran receiver from practicing for most of training camp.
When Bryant was released as part of final roster cutdowns, Gruden said it was because he had been outplayed by some of the team’s other young receivers. On Wednesday, Gruden said that Bryant was in a good place.
“He looks good,” offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. “He stayed in shape. He stayed around town so he’s still involved in the game and working out. He retained a lot of the things that we were doing with him previously, so he looks good.”
“This is just another thing that I’ve been through in my career,” Bryant said. “I made some mistakes when I was at a younger age and I learned from that. I didn’t get overly down on myself as I beat myself up the first time I got suspended. I’ve been through it before so I know how to stay focused and just fight through it.”
Bryant said he avoided watching the Raiders’ 33-13 loss to the Rams, although he remained in the Bay Area after being released by Oakland on Sept. 1.
What he missed was the Raiders passing attack going dormant in the second half. Wide receivers Jordy Nelson and Amari Cooper were limited to four catches for 32 yards combined, none after halftime.
Bryant is hopeful of joining them in Denver when the Raiders play the Broncos.
“I’m going to be ready to go,” Bryant said. “We’ve got a couple more days of practice in. I’m going to go out and put hard work in with the guys. If coach needs me to go in Sunday, I’ll be ready to go.
“I’m comfortable now but at the same time with coach Gruden’s offense you have to continue to study every day and continue to be a student of the book. You need tough love to be the best. I have a lot of work to do and he’s going to continue to push me.”
Notes: Defensive tackle Justin Ellis was placed on injured reserve with a foot strain. ... The Raiders signed defensive tackles Johnathan Hankins and Clinton McDonald.
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