Although he only finished the game with three catches for 31 yards against the Atlanta Falcons, I liked some of the things that Pittsburgh Steelers rookie wide receiver Martavis Bryant showed during the game, including some things away from the ball.
This catch early on in the game, for example. It came on a second and nine after a failed running play, on the fifth play of the Steelers’ opening drive. The Steelers emptied out into a five-wide set after taking off two tight ends and adding two wide receivers.
Bryant and Markus Wheaton split out wide to the right side of the formation while Heath Miller lined up off right tackle. Off the snap, Bryant took a false step forward before coming back to catch a screen pass as Wheaton and Miller moved ahead to block.
While Miller was able to turn one defender out, Wheaton blocked down on another, and Bryant showed patience waiting for those blocks to develop before bursting through the lane for 14 yards.
While he didn’t have a catch on the drive, he did show up well during the Steelers’ second possession as well. After the play began to break down on the third snap of the drive, Ben Roethlisberger managed to find Le’Veon Bell as an outlet, and Bryant quickly turned around to find somebody to block. While the officials threw a flag on the block, perhaps rightfully, they later picked it up, and it opened up the path for a 44-yard play.
A few plays later, as the Steelers drove into Atlanta territory, Roethlisberger decided to take a shot deep to Bryant in the end zone, but it was defended well. While Bryant did get past him, he used his left arm, illegally, to elevate himself over the defender. He was left with only one hand to attempt the catch, and the cornerback was able to get his hand on the ball and help knock it away, setting up a third and 17.
Roethlisberger got the last drive of the first half started with another toss to Bryant, which this time went for 13 yards. With the defender playing off, he curled inside and caught the ball nine yards out in front of the cornerback, using his body to shield himself and then showing the strength to wrestle himself forward for an extra few yards.