They lost All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey for perhaps half the season with a broken lower fibula, then got word that dynamic young deep threat Martavis Bryant would be suspended for four games after he reportedly failed multiple tests for marijuana use.
After the Steelers struggled to score against Jacksonville and Cleveland in back-to-back games last season, managing only 27 points combined against two of the league’s worst defenses, the coaching staff made a significant change in personnel. Bell also is serving a suspension under the same policy.
Bryant is appealing the suspension, but losing Bryant for any amount of time will certainly test the Steelers offense, but mainly their wide receiver corps. Again, [we’re] disappointed. Disappointing not only for him on a personal level, but he let his teammate down, this organization down, his family and friends and, obviously, Steelers Nation. He connected with Ben Roethlisberger in their first preseason debut for a 44-yard touchdown pass. While only catching 26 passes on the season, eight of those went for touchdowns. Markus Wheaton, a third-year receiver from Oregon State, will step into Bryant’s No. 2 receiver slot with more pressure now placed on rookie Sammie Coates.
However, selecting Coates in the third round of this year’s draft could also show that the team isn’t 100-percent confident Bryant is done with the substance which found him in this predicament in the first place. He missed the first six games of the season in 2014 due to an injury, so missing the first part of a season is not new for Bryant.
Bryant was expected to have a big year in 2015 as Pittsburgh’s number two wide receiver behind superstar Antonio Brown.
The Patriots and Steelers open the NFL schedule on Thursday, September 10. They didn’t and now Heyward-Bey will be counted on filling the very big shoes of Bryant.
Brindza converted all three of his field-goal attempts this preseason for the Lions, who signed him as an undrafted college free agent out of Notre Dame. I’m a good communicator with the rest of the guys I’m playing with. Obviously, there is more upside with Wheaton than the Smith and Boldin types if you’re looking for the higher ceiling, but remember the risk. He can come in and replace me. “You have to be able to play the cards that you’re dealt, and that’s what we have to do”.