Rookies don’t usually get a chance to shine for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but things might be different for wide receiver Martavis Bryant (out of Clemson), who might not be high up the depth chart at the position but is quickly making an impression with his presence in the red zone and ability to make impossible catches.
There are plenty of players in front of the 6’5 22-year old. Antonio Brown and Markus Wheaton are the two listed starters, with Justin Brown and Lance Moore backing them up. From here come the long shots – one is veteran Darrius Heyward-Bay, here in case someone gets injured, and then Bryant, who has a chance of improving his standing by the time the season begins.
Todd Haley, the offensive coordinator, has said that Bryant still has a few things to learn before he is fully in sync with Big Ben’s offense. Roethlisberger seems to be in an excellent situation as far as receivers are concerned, and has a unique target in Bryant, who also ran a 4.4 40-yard dash during the combine. He won’t be getting a lot of targets and passes thrown at him, but it’ll usually be meaningful ones.
Ike Taylor has said that Bryant reminds him of a young Mike Wallace. Wallace, now with the Miami Dolphins, had an exceptional rookie season in 2009, catching 39 passes for 756 yards and six touchdowns. For Wallace, it clearly went quickly to his head, and it doesn’t seem like the Steelers are going to rely so heavily on the young Bryant, although making the team younger has been part of the process after the relative failure of the last two years.
Heath Miller didn’t have the best of seasons in 2013 and the former first round draft pick isn’t getting any younger (turning 32 in October). Bryant isn’t exactly a tight end, but when looking for a big target with safe hands who can move quicker than he looks like, Bryant might be someone who picks up on some of the workload that Miller won’t be getting in the near future, paving his way for a unique position on the Steelers’ offense.
Bryant was a fourth round selection by the Steelers in the 2014 draft. He caught 42 passes in 13 games for Clemson last season, finishing with 828 yards and 7 touchdown receptions. He caught two touchdowns as Clemson beat Ohio State in the Orange Bowl.