STEELERS – THURSDAY
PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers offense took another hit Thursday, as second-year wideout Martavis Bryant faces a four-game suspension, pending appeal, for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
Bryant, the club’s fourth-round pick, tallied eight touchdowns on 26 catches and a 21.1-yard average in just 10 games. He developed into an explosive offensive component for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who also will be without injured center Maurkice Pouncey (at least two months) and suspended running back Le’Veon Bell (two games) for the opener Sept. 10 at New England.
“We’re just excited for the guys who are going to be there,” No. 1 wideout Antonio Brown said. “There are going to be some opportunities for other guys, so we all have to be ready to play. … Adversity is a part of the game and a part of being in this league, but you have to be highly professional in the way we carry ourselves off the field and on the field.”
For Bryant to be suspended four games, it has to be his second violation (positive test). The NFL only tests its players once per year, a CBA-mandated window, from mid-April (when the new season begins) through early in the preseason. Possible substances include marijuana, cocaine and amphetamines.
With Bryant out of action for a month, Brown and third-year wideout Markus Wheaton could get a lot more balls thrown their way. And others such as rookie Sammie Coates and veteran Darrius Heyward-Bey might have to step up.
“We just have to move on and do what we can to help the team,” Coates said. “If that means I have to play more, whatever position and whatever they need me to do, I’ll do it. No matter what the situation is and who’s on the field, every day’s an opportunity for me. That’s how I look at it. We fight for each other and play for each other, and we have to stick together as a team.”
As a leader for the offense and specifically the wide receivers, Brown likely will have to counsel Bryant at some point. But like all the Steelers players, he was unaware of the suspension until told by the media Thursday.
“I have to get all the information, but I’m sure that when the time comes I’ll be encouraging, obviously supportive and wish him well until he gets back,” Brown said. “I’m never surprised Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"