At the moment, it appears that Pittsburgh Steelers second-year wide receiver Martavis Bryant is not on schedule to make his season debut on Monday night in Sand Diego, as, while he is not officially listed on the injury reports while still not technically on the 53-man roster, it has essentially been verified that he has not practiced since Monday.
Yesterday, Mike Prisuta Tweeted a series of quotes from quarterback Mike Vick that verified he had only practiced with Bryant once this week, on Monday, when it was first talked about, and that he was skeptical about the young wideout’s availability for the Steelers’ next game.
The long and short of this is that the team’s other receivers had better be prepared, as they remain in the roles that they had served through the first three games. This is aimed specifically at third-year wide receiver Markus Wheaton.
Wheaton, in his second season as a starter, has not put up the production that one would have hoped, totaling just eight receptions for 156 yards, the majority of which came during the first two games of the season.
Of course, he missed most of the last game with an ankle injury that he suffered on the opening drive, which he re-injured later in the game, limiting him to just 17 snaps, finishing with just one reception for 18 yards.
The game prior, Wheaton had just two receptions are a total of 16 yards, which proved to be a substantial reduction from the early returns in the first two weeks, where he posted 55 and then 67 yards, including a 48-yard reception.
It goes without saying that behind without Ben Roethlisberger for most of the past two games, and missing out on most of the last game, took a hard hit on his production during that time span, but even the statistical production from the first two games does not fully live up to what one would expect from a starting wide receiver on an elite offense.
The concerning part is that the Steelers will need him to be productive against the Chargers, with Vick throwing him the ball, if they hope to win, and if indeed Bryant is not yet ready to make his 2015 season debut.
There has not been an obvious indication that it will be only a matter of time before he breaks out and becomes a consistent contributor. While he has had a few nice games here and there, they have been nearer to the exception rather than the rule.
The outlook seems optimistic that Wheaton will be a go for the Monday night game in San Diego, and he will now have had about a week and a half to work on his game with Vick throwing him the ball.
While Vick’s main focus will likely be getting the ball out to Antonio Brown more—and doing so with better accuracy—Wheaton needs to make himself available to his quarterback, to help him out as the Steelers weather this injury storm on an offense currently down three starters.