Report: Bryant Claims He Won’t Be Returning Kickoffs Against Patriots

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant is back with the team on Thursday after missing Wednesday due to a personal issue and during his talk with the media he revealed that he won’t be returning kickoffs Sunday at Heinz Field against the New England Patriots, according to Eric Hagman of 93.7 The Fan.

While Bryant has provided an occasional spark on a few of his kickoff returns since being given the opportunity to start doing so several weeks ago, he’s also had a few issues when it comes to him cleanly fielding the football. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin addressed those issues immediately after the team’s Sunday night game against the Baltimore Ravens and again on Tuesday during his weekly press conference.

“We’ll keep working,” Tomlin said Tuesday during his weekly press conference when asked how he plans on going about helping Bryant improve at fielding kickoffs more cleanly. “You guys wondered why you hadn’t seen him before recent weeks, now you know. We’ll keep working. It’s been a nice shot in our arm. It’s provided something else for other people to defend. It’s been a way of getting him the ball a little bit more. We’ll keep working and see where the road leads us.”

Based on what Bryant reportedly said Thursday, the Steelers road with Bryant as the team’s kickoff returner has come to a dead-end already, or at least for this coming Sunday against the Patriots. That’s probably not a bad thing being as the Patriots have made it a habit of kicking the football high and short of the goal-line this season in an attempt to force the opposing team to cleanly field and return it.

With rookie wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster now back this week from his one-game suspension, it’s probably easy to speculate that he and backup running back Fitzgerald Toussaint will be the two deep kickoff returners for the Steelers Sunday against the Patriots.


  • Jollyrob68

    He doesn’t want to get hit,the second they come to tackle him he squats down and stops going forward.

  • SwagDaddy330


  • Charles Mullins

    I agree that it is a good idea for this game but I would like to see him get back after it against the Texans and Browns. BB would have definitely attacked this weakness, but he is special and can definitely help us in the long run.

  • NCSteel

    I’ve soured so much on this guy it’s reaching apathy.
    I really expected the second coming of Randy Moss this year.
    Now, forget deep TD’s down the left side and jump balls in the end zone.
    If the cat goes 4-40 I’ll consider it a big game for him.
    Tired of the excuses, he can’t even be considered a serious downfield threat anymore, he doesn’t finish his routes without pulling up and couldn’t catch a contested cold on a deep route.

  • walter

    Croissant gonna take one to da house!!!!

  • James Cooley

    Yeah, I noticed

  • Michael Mosgrove


  • walter

    Im not sure whats wrong with him but i dont expect anything anymore. Nobody is afraid of him. He is no longer a deep threat and does not command double coverage. I think he may have lost a step.

  • DirtDawg1964

    As long as MB is a Steeler I will pull for him. And I definitely am rooting for him to keep his life on the level, given how hard he’s likely worked to do so.

    But something is way off with this guy. Not getting separation, losing track of balls thrown, not fighting for close catches, and wary of any kind of contact. He’s been tough to watch.

  • Mark

    Well said. MB should be in Arizona or Tennessee next season

  • falconsaftey43

    Anyone else think Coates might have been the better choice?
    2016 Coates, Busted hand and all. 14 games, 21 rec, 435 yards, 2 TDs
    2017 Bryant, 14 games 37 rec, 419 yards, 2 TDs

    I’ve gotta think maybe Coates could have done a little better after healing that hand up.

  • Charles Mullins

    Nope, but i would have given them Justin Hunter instead.

  • Charles Mullins

    ….and yet he always seems to be hustling and blocking well. I think he is a better teammate than we give him credit for.

  • Biggie

    He does it when catching the ball as well.

  • Intense Camel

    It’s primarily the added weight imo. Everything else he was already struggling with before. The rust has just amplified those issues and he’s yet to overcome them.

  • John

    Yes. And the change this week may be because he missed Wednesday and that was a day they were going to work on kick returns or fielding kicks. Long-term his explosiveness gives us something we have not had but he needs to hold on to the ball and make good decisions. Instead, we will get Fitz running 20 yards up the middle and getting stopped at the 28 at best.

  • Intense Camel

    To be fair, Ben hasn’t exactly been a threat throwing the deep ball either.

  • John

    He is an Alvin Harper-type. If you can put him in situation where the other team is covering the run, AB and the TE, he might look good and have some big plays. If not, he is going to look average at best. The Pats will probably double AB and load up against then run. So this week may be Bryant’s best chance. JJSS also. We could use Vance too as no one is covering Jesse because they know he is only a very limited threat.

  • The Tony

    I was honestly concerned that he was going to fumble the ball when he did return them. Bryant didn’t look too secure when he was carrying the ball

  • The Tony

    Aside from the block where he was the lead for AB against Baltimore where he looked disinterested and AB visibly upset, Bryant has been playing hard, just not consistent.

  • Charles Mullins

    Yup, but there was also the play where he recovered AB’s fumble. You can always pick out one play either way, but my eyeballs have seen effort. My eyeballs have been wrong before.

  • Darth Blount 47

    Kinda funny, holding, which happens every single NFL play, is the difference between us celebrating Bryant’s returns and us willing to move on from him in that role. Thanks, Zebras.

    After thinking about our options, why not Eli Rogers?

    I can’t remember seeing as few kickoffs returned for TD’s anymore. So what you basically want, is someone with some real burst and quickness off the line, to get the ball to the 30 and beyond. Does anybody else watch Eli Rogers off the line? He has a real quick twitch and I think that he’d be someone to try as the opposite of Bryant. Bryant is the long-strider who needs a bit of time to get going. Rogers is the dynamite, who should routinely put us in better field position, even if it is only by a few more yards than we would be getting.

  • LucasY59

    I thought Rogers was going to be the return guy when they first brought him in as a UDFA (but he ended up on IR before the rookie season began) then I thought it would be Ayers (because he was a draft pick) I still think either of those two could be good options (I know Ayers is gone) but if Eli is the PR now and the pats are gonna try and make their KOs resemble punts then Eli should be a good candidate to return them (or at least be paired with Juju) I just dont see why Fitz is a KR?

    also I agree if MB gets that TD without a flag the opinions on him would be much different (which is totally unfair since he had nothing to do with the hold…Wilcox barely did either) I hope that even though Bryant isnt going to be returning in this game that they keep working with him on his returns (never know when the need might arise and the run away speed could be an asset)

  • LucasY59


  • LucasY59

    what has Sammie done in cleveLOLand?

  • MC

    Stupid in my opinion. The only one that’s broken decent returns and he’s taken off return duties. Sure he fumbled one but until he loses one im willing to go with the only person who can provide a spark on the return unit. Can we question Danny Smith’s job security after this year again please?

  • Taylor Williams

    5 catches, 62 yards, 0 TDs.

  • Taylor Williams

    He gained 20 pounds. That’s not his problem though. He can’t make contested catches anymore. But that extra 20 pounds just puts him at juju’s speed.

  • francesco

    Yes I think MB would prefer to play in warmer temperatures. We would want to do the same if we’re honest.

  • francesco

    Well i don’t know how you watch the game but i consistently see the CB and Safety on MB’s side of the field.

  • francesco

    Well look what happened to OBJ. The CB’s these days go for the knees and lower.

  • francesco

    The Steelers scored 39 points (the most this season!) without JuJu in the lineup and McDonald playing half the game. Someone please explain how this is all MB’s fault?

  • John Pennington

    He just not the man for the job.No real loss.Have to have someone with good hands who can handle KO.MB will have the off season to work on it.

  • dany

    “Whats he got to be “pissed” about anyway ?”

    Really? I wish no one ever says that about you, we know s*** about his life outside of the football field, he could be going through a million things we don’t know about, who are we to judge what he can be pissed about?

  • dany

    I’d bet good money him being threat on the other side had a large impact on AB’s 200 yard game. His last 200 yard game Bryant was there too. His hands and concentration may be sucking lately but I’m sure he’s not been left alone out there

  • PaeperCup

    I think he has potential to be a good returner. That straight line speed can be effective, but it’s gotta be a straight line. Can’t be dancing around, that’s not his game.

  • SouthernSteel

    Great now we will have two slow pokes returning kickoffs….

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I just do not see any extra effort from Bryant. If he cannot show something big the rest of the season there is no reason to keep the guy. It almost seems like he is not trying to get hurt so he can get a big payday from someone else next year.

  • Cormel Bovan Sr.

    I’ve been saying all year the added muscle is the problem , he lost some agility because of it. He never played up to his size (red zone , tough ,catches) he was known to be freakishly agile for a guy that size thus the name alien. The other issue is he is not mentally strong thus the failed drug test , him wanting to give up on this team. He’s not running away from guys and he can’t figure out why and it’s really messing with his head. That’s part of the reason he gives up so quickly on screens and avoids contact. With all that said he is still a young man and has time to grow, I don’t think we should give up on him yet. We have him cheap for one more year he’ll be able to refocus and feel more apart of the team and be comfortable in this offense again ( remember he wasn’t allowed practice with the team most of the offseason which is where team building happens.

  • michael young

    Nothing strikes the fear of god in teams, like Fitzgerald Toussaint returning kicks.

  • Reezy

    Nothing strikes fear into fans like MB back pedaling into a near safety or drop

  • Conserv_58

    Nothing makes Steelers fans more angry than to see Bryant run horizontally, be indecisive or stop and freeze up because he’s afraid of getting hit. His having barely over eleven yards per attempt is pathetic.

    The one thing that irritates me the most about kick and punt returners is when they try to get too cute and end up going nowhere. If Toussaint just runs the darn thing straight up the field he should get better yardage than Martavis did.

  • falconsaftey43

    lack of success in Cleveland isn’t exactly a barometer for talent. Their leading WR is Richardo Louis with 26 rec 322 yards. Britt, by no means great but at least a previously productive WR in NFL had only 18 receptions for 233 yards.

  • falconsaftey43

    Except for like the 30 times he’s hooked up with Brown deep this year. He did it 3 times just against the Ravens.

  • Steel Realist PAul

    Dropped passes are likely not the best indicator of sure hands for kickoff returns, but we saw what happened when not sure handed MB struggled last game – although, personally, I’d like to see him get a few games under his belt before moving on – but, makes you wonder with Rogers.

    For that matter, why is anyone even returning at all? Just take a knee and the ball at the 25 and bring out the killer B’s

  • Intense Camel

    He’s only been connecting on those recently.

  • LucasY59

    that is true, but Josh Gordon has shown glimpses of his former self in the few games he has been back, and he was out of football a lot longer than Martavis was (which was the original point of the comment Bryant vs Coates) so I think MB would do more with the Clowns than Sammie has, and since Coates would be in the Tomlin doghouse either Hunter or Hey-Bey would be outperforming Sammie if he was still with the Steelers (IMO) and Bryant is the best option of all 4 and that is why he is being used as the #2 WR with the Steelers (I will admit Juju has been a good addition, when I originally thought the use of the draft pick was unnecessary)

  • walter

    They double on AB before they do MB

  • Renohightower

    Good ole Sgt. Butterfingers

  • Cwallace

    Sometimes he looks flat lazy. One play when blocking for could hear Brown get on him about his sorry blocking.

  • Cwallace

    Saw that. That maybe telling

  • Cwallace

    I’ve been a big MB supporter from day one but you just posted what the eye test tells me and you are exactly right. Everything about him looks stiff. And if the Steelers throw him one more pass behind the line of scrimmage they’re crazy…hes not the 40yrd play maker using that play anymore….no first quickness.