Considering that emerging second-year receiver Martavis Bryant tore it up with 138 yards in about one half of football during Pittsburgh’s fourth preseason game, it’s safe to say the high-powered Steelers will feel Bryant’s loss when the 23-year-old is forced to sit out the first four games of the regular season due to suspension.
Sure, the Steelers have reigning receiving yardage champ Antonio Brown as well as a talented 24-year-old in Markus Wheaton, but there aren’t a lot of options beyond that for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Big Ben, though, is confident that one formerly highly-touted receiver can finally deliver in Bryant’s stead.
“We’ve been working with Hey-Bey,” Roethlisberger said this week, referring to 2009 No. 7 overall pick and unanimous bust Darrius Heyward-Bey. “He’s playing with a lot of confidence, and we have confidence in him. He’s one of the guys who went down to Georgia with us when we worked out. We built that confidence and trust in each other. I think he’ll step up and be just fine.”
After being cast aside by the Raiders ans Colts, DHB spent the entire 2014 season on Pittsburgh’s roster but was hardly a factor, contributing on special teams while catching just three of five passes for 33 yards.
This is a man who has caught less than 47 percent of the passes thrown his way during his career. According to Pro Football Focus, he has dropped 34 passes in six seasons, which is about one in every 10 thrown his way. In 2013 with the Colts, he had the second-highest drop rate in football.
But Roethlisberger believes.
“He works his butt off every day,” Roethlisberger said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He never complains. He never gripes. He goes about his job, and it’s grimy, running down on special teams, punts, kickoffs. He’s a former first-rounder. He doesn’t say ‘Woe is me’ and worry about ‘I used to be this, used to be that.’ He does everything he can to coach the young guys and work with me as much as he can.”
Considering we’re talking about practice, I’ll believe it when I see it.