Roethlisberger On Bryant’s Future Role: ‘I Think Martavis’ Spot Is Where It’s Always Been’

After being sat down for the team’s Week 8 road game against the Detroit Lions as punishment for an unnecessary social media outburst, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant is expected to be back in the lineup this coming Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts. On Tuesday, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was asked during his weekly interview on 93.7 The Fan if he believes Bryant is looking at the second half of the regular season as it being a fresh start for him.

“Yeah, I thought he had a good practice yesterday,” Roethlisberger said of Bryant. “[He] was out there running around, making plays, looking fast. Like I’ve always said before, I didn’t think his attitude was bad on the field so I didn’t notice anything other than normal Martavis. And I’m sure he’s excited for the second half of the season as much as I am and we are for him.”

Roethlisberger was then asked if Bryant worked with the first-team offense during the team’s Monday practice.

“Yes, he was yesterday,” Roethlisberger said.

The Steelers quarterback was then asked to describe what Bryant’s role on offense will be moving forward into the second half of the regular season and especially when rookie wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster is on the field.

“Well, I think Martavis’ spot is where it’s always been,” said Roethlisberger. “It’s outside, to the trips he’s the Z receiver, the strong side receiver. I think JuJu comes in and plays the slot and I think there’s things, there’s certain packages, that we’re going to have Eli in the slot and JuJu outside playing the Z spot when Martavis is not on the field.”

In short, the Steelers rotation at the wide receiver spot with Bryant, Smith Schuster and Rogers will likely closely resemble what it was just prior to the team’s game against the Lions. There will be a few plays that Bryant isn’t on the field for when the Steelers use only two wide receivers. Additionally, Bryant might not be on the field for a few plays that feature three wide receivers.

It will certainly be interesting to see what kind of second half of season that Bryant ultimately has. This coming Sunday, the Steelers offense will face a Colts defense that has struggled mightily against deep passing attacks so far this season. In short, expect Roethlisberger to throw deep to Bryant multiple times Sunday afternoon and especially if the tall wide receiver gets matched up against Colts cornerback Pierre Desir, who might be forced to start once again in place of Vontae Davis.

  • PaeperCup

    Bryant on the field will only make JuJu better. And same goes the other way around. Defenses have a lot on their hands with our top 3 WRs.

  • Alex’s film post re why MB isn’t getting open–especially concerning his lining up solo across from trips formations, which leaves MB bracketed by a CB and S who’ve got no one else to muddy their coverage–shows why it’s hard to expect a huge jump in MB’s production. Unless Haley changes that schematic tendency, MB will either need to catch more contested balls or tough catches, which he failed to in the first half of the season, or Ben will need to be more accurate on deep passes.

    Alex, did Haley do anything different re WR/TE formations in past seasons that left MB facing single coverage? Or was it that our TE, RB [as a receiver] and/or our slot receivers were effective enough to force single coverage on the X and Z, or non-two-high coverage?

  • ThatGuy

    First offensive play of the game Sunday should be that play Juju scored on against Detroit just with Bryant.

  • nutty32

    PFT making it sound like Vontae Davis has some on-going disciplanry/desire issues and may not play again. Their #1 pick safety already out for the season. Might lead to a big day for the passing game. Their other safety did have a big day v. us in that preseason game and has been pretty active all season, but their secondary pretty banged up with a middling pass rush to boot.

  • ThatGuy

    Hope he finds his desire in Week 11 lol

  • Mark

    I hope and pray that Ben takes what the defense is giving him and not try to force it to MB, resulting in unnecessary turnovers and bad plays. However, as I’ve said, this is a game to run the football and let Ben ease into an after bye week game. We have struggled in the last 3 albeit to some superior competition but let’s stick with Bell and get a lead and then open it up. Ben slinging the rock around doesn’t work well for us.

  • Charles Mullins

    Don’t forget about Vance coming into his own. He can light you up or burn you. Should be a fun second season.

  • Charles Mullins

    I hope that MB does something special so that he can feel good about himself. Low self esteem can manifest in all kinds of nasty ways.

  • PittShawnC

    It’s funny because people think he can change

  • pittfan

    He can. I did. Ive seen hundreds who have. There’s always hope.

  • PittShawnC

    Not everyone is capable or intelligent enough to do so.

    He hasn’t taken things seriously since high school.

  • walter

    sounds like JuJu is number 2 WR

  • walter

    I thought MB was single covered most of the time but maybe im wrong

  • pittfan

    Only the clinically insane are incapable and ironically, “intelligence” seems to have an inverse correlation to changing ones personality and life habits. “Intelligent” people are hampered by arrogance, believing they have the answers and don’t need anyone else telling them different. Hopefully, MB is dumb enough to get it! I always have hope.

  • PittShawnC

    Then what’s your diagnosis as to why he hasn’t changed at all in the past nine years?
    Why has he never taken his priorities seriously (assuming academics to some degree was and playing football is a priority) in the past nine years?
    Why is this time any different? Keep in mind any of the reasons you cite could surely also have been used immediately after any of his previous five suspensions.

    At what point do YOU (as I already have) realize things aren’t changing? One more suspension? Two more suspensions?

  • Hi Walter! Alex K posted a great study on Oct 26th entitled “Watch: Why Martavis Bryant Isn’t Involved in the Steelers’ Offense [and why it’s not all his fault].” If you watch the film clips that Alex provides, you’ll see he’s often boxed by “two-high” coverage, which involves an underneath corner [playing between MB and Ben] and a safety lurking within striking distance over-the-top. Ben–as we’ve see re good results and bad–will challenge this when throwing to AB because he knows AB will more often than not win a contested catch. He tried this with MB early in the season, but since MB has thus far failed re contested catches, he’s largely ignored him when he sees MB covered two-high.

  • pittfan

    Keep in mind, I only know about him what has been given to us in the press, but generally, he seems to be a man that was not raised with a father figure in his life. (all too common these days) He was born with physical gifts (to which he built upon by working hard at playing a game). These gifts have allowed him to ascend to heights and avoid the consequences of his behavior. Star athletes are pampered and given passes none of us receive. It’s clear he didn’t get thru Clemson on his academics.
    But life carries consequences that cannot be put off forever. it is catching up to him.No one knows for sure when, or even if he will square himself up with reality. I’ve seen many many never get it and die from their addictions. I’ve seen others who many left for dead long ago rise up and achieve great things in life.
    In answer to your questions then, I realize nothing is going to change when he is dead. Till then, there is hope. The real questions are, is his time now? I’m less hopeful after this recent bout of outburst. What will it take? God only knows. I hope for his sake, he does not have to destroy himself or those around him anymore than he already has.

  • PittShawnC

    Take a look at this timeline/pattern of behavior over time:

    2009 – Academically ineligible to attend NCAA school
    2010 – attended boarding school to become NCAA eligible
    2011,12 – 19 receptions combined in 2011 and ’12, and coaches were on Bryant for his lack of consistency and focus on and off the field.
    2012 – suspended Chick-Fil-A Bowl, academics
    2013 – suspended first half of Wake Forest game
    2014 – inactive first six games (training camp, preseason performance? AC joint sprain injury last preseason game?)
    2015 – suspended four games
    2016 – suspended 19 games
    2017 – suspended one game

    That’s a suspension in five of the last six years!!! We’re not just talking about giving a guy a 2nd or even 3rd chance here. Keep in mind too, he went from a four game suspension in 2015 to a full season suspension in 2016. Read up on the Sub Abuse policy, he would’ve had to have failed multiple, multiple tests to go from four games to a whole season.

    He’s never taken his academics (while at Clemson) or his athletics seriously. He’s never ‘worked hard’ as you say (in an SI interview, he stays the first time he ever worked out off the field in his life was during his most recent suspension). There’s nothing you can say about him right now (“If he just focuses”, “he’s learned from his mistake”, “he needs to get rid of distractions” blah blah blah) that hasn’t been said by others a dozen times over for almost a decade.

    (There is a small part of me that believes he’s low functioning, not like simple minded, but close. 70 IQ ish. That could explain not only why his academics were a constant struggle, but why he’s repeatedly behaved in a way where it’s almost as if he’s naive enough to think there won’t be consequences.)

    But anywho, this brings us full circle back to my original comment. I do indeed find it funny that people think he’s going to change. How anyone on Earth can look at his repeated behaviors and feel confident ‘this time it’s going to be different’ is so preposterous I laugh. But they do, and will. Most are still suckers for that ‘potential’.

    For the record, I’m sure he’ll ‘get right’ or ‘change’ after it’s too late (banned from the league, no one signing him, etc).