Pittsburgh Steelers rookie wide receiver Martavis Bryant has made quite an impact in his first three games as professional as he’s already caught 10 passes for 147 yards and five touchdowns. Despite his quick success, however, it sounds like offensive coordinator Todd Haley isn’t going to pile too much on the Clemson product in the near future.
“He was a young player coming out of college that missed some time. He already had a lot on his plate,” Haley said Thursday of Bryant, according to steelers.com. “I think getting away from the no-huddle a little bit has helped him. Maybe it allowed him to earn the trust of the quarterback and the coaches a little quicker because he had a little bit of a smaller menu to draw from. Our situation helped him in that sense. I think it is just what these guys are told from day one what they have to do. They have to develop. They can’t stay the same.”
In the last three games the Steelers have only run their no-huddle offense on 14 plays and it does indeed appear as though Bryant’s increase in playing time is the reason for that.
“We always have the no-huddle available. There are some times where we use it a little earlier but I think with some new guys in there and some of the rotation at receiver, we are getting into more huddle calls,” said Haley. “It has given them a chance to focus in on what they have to do. Like Coach Tomlin said, no-huddle is a part of what we do and we’ve had success with it. We’ve been having success going the way we have against the last two teams we’ve played. There wasn’t any need to get out of what we were doing at that time.”
In addition to Bryant making plays, his mere presence on the field as a possible deep threat appears to have really opened the passing game and in turn it’s created even more opportunities for the other receivers.
“I think he [Bryant] is another element to a group that has some balance,” Haley said. Any time he is out there, and the fact that when he got in there he made some plays early, I think that was big. You can’t ignore guys that are making plays. He is a big guy that can run fast. He’s no different than Darrius Heyward-Bey who is a big guy that can run fast. And with [Markus] Wheaton, we have some speed out there on the field.
“We have different packages. We obviously have more speed at time than others. You have to account for them. Every play one of those guys makes I think it just helps A.B. a little bit or helps our run game a little bit from a pressure standpoint. It causes the defense to make tougher decisions.”
While Bryant is making plays, we’ve yet to really see him work against press coverage and Haley was asked about that Thursday.
“You have a big guy that can run fast. If you stand out there and he gets by you, it’s going to be all over quick,” he said. “Those are defensive questions but guys are going to defend guys differently for different reasons.”
The Steelers will play a New York Jets team Sunday that figures to be without starting cornerback Darrin Walls. That could result in some tasty matchups for Bryant when he’s on the field as the Jets top priority will obviously be to try and shut down Antonio Brown.
The Jets are allowing nearly 21 receptions a game so far this season and when you consider that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is averaging 26 completions a game this season, Bryant figures to get quite a few opportunities Sunday.
“He has obviously made plays when his number has been called,” said Haley. “I think we have something good going on at that position.”