Frustrated WR Bryant wants more passes and to return to Bucs
This is not the way franchise receiver Antonio Bryant would've scripted the season.
Undergo knee surgery in training camp, struggle to get back on the field, change coordinators 10 days before the start of the opener, get caught on the Bucs' carousel of quarterbacks before settling on rookie first round pick Josh Freeman and catch just 22 passes for 360 yards and three touchdowns through 11 games.
"No, like I say, you can plan a picnic, but you can't predict the weather,'' Bryant said Wednesday. "All and all, you've just got to be the same person. Attack and drive yourself toward the same goal no matter what. But you've got to understand your situation. I understand our situation over here, that's why I don't say much. But it's frustrating when you know when you're in those close games like Sunday...we've got control of the game. We've got control of the game. That hurts.''
Bryant, who signed a one-year, $9.88-million contract as the team's franchise player, is upset the team has not made him more of a focal point of the offense, particularly in crunch time. Last season, he led the Bucs with 83 catches for 1,248 yards and seven touchdowns.
Bryant had four balls thrown his direction in Sunday's 20-17 loss at Atlanta and caught three for 91 yards and a touchdown.
"A good example, look at Atlanta,'' Bryant said. "The last drive it was 12 (Mike Jenkins), 84 (Roddy White) and 88 (Tony Gonzalez). That's all you saw. Wasn't nobody else in between. Hey, that's what you get paid for. That's the responsibility that's laid upon your shoulders to go out there and make plays in certain situations. But it hasn't been like that.
"I can't call that. we've had numerous quarterbacks, different coordinators, different people with different suggestions about where the ball should go. It is what it is. I don't have no say in any of that.''
Bryant is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and said he would like to remain with the Bucs, particularly with the addition of Freeman.
"You know, with a guy like Josh Freeman? All day,'' Bryant said. "And a lot of the guys here, my coach, Richard Mann. Yeah. I like some of the things coach Raheem is doing. But a lot of that doesn't involve me, so I don't know. That's not something I can answer.
"It's not like I'm running around here asking for a whole bunch of money. I'm not even talking about money. I'm just trying to go out here and produce on the field. That's just what's in me.''
Bryant said he's uncertain why, injuries aside, he is not been a bigger part of the offense this season.
"I could name guys all over. A good pal of mine in Houston (Andre Johnson), he's probably got over 100 attempts at balls. I probably don't even have 50,'' Bryant said. "It's disturbing to me you've got play-makers and guys getting opportunities with the ball and they don't have to demand that. So I'm not going to demand it here, it should just be like that.
"At the end of the day, I just look at it like no opportunities (Sunday) in the first quarter. Two shots in the second quarter. One shot in the third quarter, one shot in the fourth quarter. It's hard getting into a game like that. It's just a matter of wanting to win.
"I don't have my own section on the play sheet anymore like I used to for plays to be called. I know that for a fact.''
Bryant also rejected the perception of some that he is 'saving,' himself for free agency next season. He's missed three games this year from swelling related to surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee during training camp.
"How can I save myself? What is saving myself?'' Bryant said. "I play with plenty of guys that have worse injuries than me. Everytime you step on the field, something is waiting for you out there. You may get saved that day. How can I save myself? I just play football. I like making plays. We all like making plays. Who likes sitting around here with 200 yards receiving? Who likes sitting around here 1-10, 1-9. C'mon man, that's not realistic.''
But don't expect Bryant to lobby coach Raheem Morris or offensive coordinator Greg Olson for the football.
"I've learn to just shut up and go home,'' he said.