When it comes to his relationship with wide receiver Martavis Bryant, for Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, the strain has never been as a result of what the young pass-catcher has done on the field, whether inside a stadium or at Chuck Noll Field at St. Vincent College in Latrobe.
The former fourth-round draft pick has always been an impressive and dynamic talent with size, speed, catch radius, and even surprising short-area quickness. An injury and a learning curve kept him on the bench for the first six games of his career, but Roethlisberger made sure he stayed on the field once he caught a touchdown on his first pass.
But he couldn’t do anything about getting him back on the field when it came to his suspensions for failed drug tests. And that—or more specifically the lies Bryant told to Roethlisberger and others about his drug use—put a strain on their relationship.
The quarterback alluded to that when Bryant was first reinstated, saying that he would like to sit down and have a private talk with the wide receiver when he gets back to hash things out—and presumably that has already happened a while ago at this point.
Roethlisberger recently talked about the wide receiver, among other topics, with Brian Bratko for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, telling the reporter that when it comes to Bryant, “I think it’s just proving to us he can be out there all season”, referring to his past troubles with the league. “We need him all year, so I think that’ll be big for us”.
Bryant missed the entirety of the 2016 season—not to mention the first four games of the 2015 season—while suspended by the league for multiple failed drug tests. He was suspended indefinitely, and was only reinstated on the eve of the 2017 NFL Draft.
But while he may be in some ways waiting to see what happens in that regard with Bryant, Roethlisberger has no reservations about what he has seen from the talented wide receiver back on the practice field.
He told Bratko that “he looks like a stud, as usual”, in a comment that both compliments his current level of performance and indicates that he has always believed in the wide receiver’s talent and abilities. “We’re excited for him to be on the field this year and help us out”.
Roethlisberger did note that “some of the stuff we put in last year he didn’t know about”, which goes without saying, and “remembering things that we had in before”, but a year off for anybody will do that to you. He has had time to reacclimate during OTAs and minicamp by now.
I’m sure as fans we’re all excited to get our first glimpse of Bryant in an NFL game since the end of the 2015 season, even if that means the preseason.