Up until Saturday afternoon, it looked like Pittsburgh Steelers rookie wide receiver Martavis Bryant would finally dress for the first time this season for the Sunday game against the Cleveland Browns. However, now that safety Ross Ventrone has been signed off of the practice squad to replace injured safety Shamarko Thomas on special teams, Bryant will more than likely watch his sixth straight Steelers game Sunday afternoon on the sideline in street clothes.
Ventrone’s promotion from the practice squad probably shouldn’t be a huge shock, however, especially when you consider the comments made Thursday afternoon by Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley when he was asked to talk about Bryant’s progress so far along with his chances of dressing Sunday against the Browns.
“He is making progress, no doubt about it,” said Haley of Bryant, the Steelers fourth-round draft pick back in May. “From an offensive standpoint, when you start talking about those guys you are talking about big picture, special teams and where they fit in. Some of those things are also factors in it. Ultimately that will come down to Coach Tomlin.”
While Bryant might indeed be making progress as a wide receiver in practice, it’s obvious that he has yet to show anything on special teams as a gunner and that’s not a huge surprise. Unfortunately his lack of development in that area will more than likely prevent him from dressing Sunday against the Browns as Ventrone is a much more accomplished special teams player.
Haley also dropped us more clues Thursday that the Clemson product wouldn’t likely dress Sunday against the Browns when asked if Bryant’s shoulder injury that he suffered during the preseason finale slowed down his development some.
“Any missed time for a rookie is going to be a setback,” Haley said. “But I wouldn’t say it was any one thing. This is a highly competitive situation when you are talking about those fours, fives and sixes at positions like receiver. Our saying is “The more you can do.” So the more you can have the special teams coach need you or the offense need you, whether it’s in situations or we just need you in general, those are all going to be factors that help you get a helmet on Sundays.”
For now, Bryant will likely remain one of the Steelers seven inactive players moving forward baring any injuries to the other five wide receivers on the roster. It might even take a few injuries at the position in order for Bryant to get a helmet as the team showed during the first two weeks of the season that they are willing to play a game with only four healthy wide receivers when Lance Moore was sidelined with a groin injury.