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Tampa Bay Bucs receiver Antonio Bryant wants a bigger role

TAMPA — Shutting down receiver Antonio Bryant never has been easy, but the Bucs have got that covered.

Have him undergo knee surgery in training camp, struggle to get back on the field, change coordinators 10 days before the opener, get caught on the team's 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.

"Like I say, you can plan a picnic, but you can't predict the weather," Bryant said Wednesday.

Bryant, who signed a one-year, $9.88-million contract as the team's franchise player, is upset he hasn't been more of a focal point, 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 (for the Falcons) it was 12 (Mike Jenkins), 84 (Roddy White) and 88 (Tony Gonzalez). Wasn't nobody else in between. Hey, that's what you get paid for … to go out there and make plays in certain situations. But it hasn't been like that.

"We've had numerous quarterbacks, different coordinators, different people with different suggestions about where the ball should go. I don't have no say in any of that."

Bryant, 28, can become an unrestricted free agent after the season and the seven-year veteran said he would like to remain with the Bucs, particularly with 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 (Morris) is doing. But a lot of that doesn't involve me, so I don't know.

"It's not like I'm running around here asking for a whole bunch of money. I'm just trying to go out here and produce on the field."

The Miami native said he's uncertain why, injuries aside, he has not been a bigger part of the offense. Certainly, missing three games with the knee injury has something to do with it.

"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."

Offensive coordinator Greg Olson said Bryant's lack of practice time, a developing Freeman and additional weapons such as Kellen Winslow and Cadillac Williams have contributed to Bryant's declining production. Even backup wideout Maurice Stovall has 14 catches.

"Maurice Stovall … man, ya'll don't want me to say what I really want to say," Bryant said. "Film don't lie. Men lie, women lie, numbers don't. That's a Jay-Z quote.

Olson said he understands Bryant's frustration.

"He hasn't shown it to me or talked," Olson said. "But I think he also understands when we see when we install the game plan, how much of it is targeted for him. Certainly, I think losing brings out those types of frustrations."

Bryant also rejected the perception of some that he is "saving'' himself for free agency next season. He has missed three games from swelling related to surgery for a torn meniscus in his left knee during training camp.

"What is saving myself?" Bryant said. "I just play football. I 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."

Morris says he's not disappointed or surprised by Bryant's struggles.

"He had knee surgery at the beginning of the season before the first game," Morris said. "Then he limped through six games, then he didn't play three. His numbers are going to be down. That's what happens."

Because of clashes with coaches Bill Parcells and Mike Nolan in the past, Bryant isn't in Morris' ear and Olson said he hasn't lobbied for the ball.

"I've learn to just shut up and go home," Bryant said.

Tampa Bay Bucs receiver Antonio Bryant wants a bigger role 12/02/09 [Last modified: Thursday, December 3, 2009 8:42am]

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