Martavis Bryant is a big loss for Steelers
ESPN reporter Adam Schefter announced big news Thursday that won’t please Pittsburgh Steelers’ fans: WR Martavis Bryant has been suspended four games by the NFL for violating its substance-abuse policy.
While the suspension is under appeal, this is a big blow to the Steelers offense if it is upheld. Ben Roethlisberger will already be without star running back Le’Veon Bell for two games to start the season, and Bryant was one of the most effective wide receivers in the NFL last season on a per-target basis.
While teammate Antonio Brown is PFF’s top-ranked WR entering 2015, Bryant had an impressive rookie campaign in 2014, ranking No. 7 in the league in WR rating at 125.8 (QB rating when targeted). He also ranked No. 6 in yards per route run average at 2.75 — better than Brown, Randall Cobb, and Jordy Nelson. A favorite deep target of Roethlisberger, 41.7 percent of Bryant’s targets were of the deep variety. He caught all seven of his catchable deep balls, with four going for TDs.
The only downside to Bryant’s game was that he was among the league leaders in dropped passes, with a drop rate of 13.33 percent.
While an appeal is still in progress, there is no sugar-coating the fact that the Steelers will sorely miss Bryant’s presence against New England in the NFL season opener. Markus Wheaton dropped behind Bryant on the depth chart a year ago for a reason, as he was nowhere near as productive as the rookie.