Overall, Ben Roethlisberger appeared to be in a joyous mood today. And why wouldn’t he be? For him, today really marked the first official day of the 2016 season. And though he spent most of this interview on Steelers.com smiling and joking, his tone quickly changed when asked about the loss of Martavis Bryant, lost for the year to due drug related suspensions.
“He was a big weapon for us, obviously. One of the best, and had a chance to be one of the best in the NFL. He was growing and getting better. It hurts. It’s unfortunate, disappointing to all of us. Especially a guy I felt like I was getting really close to. Reached out to a lot when it came to his off the field stuff the first time around. We’ll miss him.”
Clearly, Roethlisberger wasn’t holding back and frankly, sounds like a guy who was genuinely hurt by Bryant’s actions. The phrase “had a chance to be one of the best” is biting. Bryant’s career may not be over but it, obviously, is as bleak as it has ever looked before.
Though Roethlisberger gave the expected answer that everyone else has to step up, he did point out he talked to his teammates right after the Bryant news broke in March.
“I kind of let them know when it happened that they’re going to need to step up and take a bigger role. I think each one of those guys already takes it upon themselves to be better than they were last year.”
The players Roethlisberger are referring to include Markus Wheaton, Sammie Coates, and Darrius Heyward-Bey. All three have flashed at points but generally speaking, need to improve their consistency to help make up for the loss of Bryant.
The signing of Ladarius Green also helps offset it, though Green himself was brought on to replace Heath Miller, but as we wrote earlier, the tight end wasn’t practicing today. Based on comments made in the Steelers.com interview, it doesn’t appear Green will participate with the team until training camp.