Martavis Bryant gets 2nd chance to succeed with Raiders
ALAMEDA — Two days after their passing game went flat in the second half of a season-opening loss, the Raiders have brought back wide receiver Martavis Bryant.
Bryant, who was with the Raiders in training camp after being acquired in a trade from Pittsburgh before getting released on the final day of roster cutdowns, signed a one-year contract and rejoined the team for practice Wednesday.
Coach Jon Gruden said it’s possible Bryant could play Sunday in Denver.
“I think he’s in a good place right now,” Gruden said. “He’s healthy. I think he’s ready to go. I’m sold on that. We’ve been in contact with him since he has been away. As I said when we made the trade to get him, when he’s right he can be a difference-maker. We’re hoping that he can be one sooner than later.”
The Raiders need all the help they can get after their offense sputtered and eventually stalled in a 33-13 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
Quarterback Derek Carr passed for 303 yards and one touchdown but most of that came in the first half. After halftime, Carr only completed nine throws while wide receivers Jordy Nelson and Amari Cooper were held without a catch. The duo finished with a combined four receptions for 32 yards.
“I’m glad he’s back,” Carr said. “With us we can be there for him, help him with whatever he needs, and then he can help us go win football games. We obviously know what kind of talent he is. He can do things that other people just don’t do. That’s not a knock on them. That’s just what God blessed him with, 4.2 speed with that kind of length.”
The Raiders traded a third-round pick to the Steelers to get Bryant in the offseason but the 26-year-old spent almost as much time in the trainer’s room as he did on the practice field while complaining of headaches.
There was also talk that Bryant could face a possible NFL suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.
When Bryant was let go, however, Gruden insisted it was because he had been outplayed by other receivers including Keon Hatcher.
Hatcher was waived Wednesday to make room for Bryant.
“One of the reasons he was outperformed is he was inconsistently available,” Gruden said. “He was sick, he had lingering problems. But I think he’s in a really good place right now and I’ve seen him in a really good place. When he’s in a really good place he can be a really good player in this league.”
Bryant has 126 receptions for 1,917 yards and 17 touchdowns. He missed the entire 2016 season while suspended for a violation of the NFL substance-abuse policy.
Cooper, who had one catch for nine yards in the opener and was targeted only three times, welcomed Bryant’s return.
“He’s going to really take the top off of defenses so we’re excited abut that,” Cooper said. “He’s a guy who’s really going to help open things up for us.”
The Raiders placed long-snapper Andrew DePaola on injured reserve. LB Shilique Calhoun was waived. Trent Sieg, who spent training camp with Baltimore, was signed to replace DePaola. … Defensive tackle P.J. Hall is wearing a walking boot on his left foot. He was injured on the first defensive series against the Rams. Defensive lineman Justin Ellis is nursing a sore foot. As a result, Gruden said the team is discussing possibly signing free agent defensive linemen Clint McDonald and Johnathan Hankins.