There is a familiar training camp storyline formula: Coach criticizes a player; reports emerge of said player struggling; player improves for at least a day and earns coach's praise. Rinse, repeat.
We've reached the latter stage of the Martavis Bryant training camp saga.
Raiders coach Jon Gruden recently tweaked Bryant, noting the receiver "needs to play better" in practice. That was followed by ex-Oakland receiver and current NFL Network analyst James Jones noting that Bryant was "not picking up the playbook."
On Wednesday, we got the good-cop routine from Gruden.
"Martavis is not a good talent, he's a great talent and we're going to continue to work him into our offense," Gruden said, via NBC Bay Area. "Today showed, I think, what he's capable of doing. ... We have big plans for him."
If Gruden's goal was to light a fire under Bryant, it might have worked.
"You can definitely tell that he has a sense of urgency for him to pick things up and learn them," quarterback Derek Carr said. "He wants to do right, he really does. To see that in him, to see him continue, he always practices hard, that's never a question. He's going to practice hard. And usually that's the hardest part to get someone to practice hard, but he is. No problem practicing hard and going hard. In the film room and in the playbook is where he's really working hard and he's gotten a lot better."
The Raiders' offense needs a dynamic talent like Bryant to thrive this season. Consistency issues, however, have plagued the 26-year-old his entire career.
Whether Bryant can turn Wednesday's praise into reliable production remains to be seen. Gruden has been known to praise a player in the media one day and cut him the next, so we'll take the glowing words with a grain of salt until Bryant proves it on the field.