While Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant set new career highs in both receptions and receiving yardage in 2015, his second season in the league could’ve been a lot better had he not been forced to miss the first four games of the regular season due to him violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
After the Steelers were eliminated from the playoffs, Bryant talked about his second season in the league with Missi Matthews of steelers.com.
“It was rocky. It was a rough start,” said Bryant. “I would say I learned a lot, got better and matured. A lot learned and a lot to look forward to.
So what specifically did the Steelers former fourth-round draft pick out of Clemson learn?
“Just how not to give up on yourself. To keep working,” said Bryant, who scored 7 touchdowns during the 2015 regular season after scoring 8 times as a rookie. “Everybody got used to me scoring touchdowns every game, and when I went through a span that I didn’t score like three or four weeks straight, everybody was like what is going on? You can’t score every game. You got to do what you got to do to help the team out, so I would say I learned how to keep myself motivated and just stay consistent.”
Ahead of the Steelers playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger challenged Bryant publicly on his radio show after the young wide receiver ended the regular season with two receptions for 6 yards in the team’s final two regular season games. Bryant, however, told Matthews that those comments by his quarterback got blown way out of proportion.
“I wasn’t mad or anything about it,” said Bryant. “People were trying to blow it up like it was a big deal, like the news did. It was just a way to wake me up and just motivate me to be on key and especially heading into the playoffs, you have to play your best football.”
In the playoff win over the Bengals, Bryant definitely answered Roethlisberger’s challenge as he caught 5 passes for 29 yards and a touchdown in addition to rushing once on an end around for another 44 yards. His touchdown catch in that game was a thing of beauty as well as he had to pin the football to the back of his leg as he flipped out of the back of the vend zone in order to retain possession.
The following weekend in the Steelers playoff loss to the Denver Broncos, Bryant had 154 yards receiving in addition to 40 yards rushing.
Even though we’ve seen some moments of greatness from Bryant in his first two seasons in the league, I doubt we really know what is ceiling is at this point. Besides, he’s yet to play a full season in the league as not only did he miss five games in 2015, he didn’t see the field during his rookie season until Week 7 due to him be perceived as not being ready or up to speed with the offense.
Based on what we’ve seen so far out of Bryant, he could very well catch 70 passes for more than 1,000 yards in 2016 as long as he stays out of trouble with the league office and is able to play a full 16 games. The Steelers will certainly be counting on that happening.