The journey toward the Super Bowl is now well under way with the Pittsburgh Steelers back practicing at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, still informally referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility. With the regular season standing in their way on the path to a Lombardi, there will be questions for them to answer along the way.
We have asked and answered a lot of questions during the preseason and through training camp, but much of the answer-seeking ends in the regular season, and teams simply have to make do with what they have available to them. Still, there will always be questions for us.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the regular season and beyond as they develop, looking for the answers as we evaluate the makeup of the Steelers on their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.
Question: Game Edition – Will Martavis Bryant suit up today, and if so, how will he be impacted by his illness?
It was just a few days ago when it seemed as though the Steelers were locked in to play their first game literally in years in which they had every player on the field whom they intended to be a starter actually on the field and starting.
That idea appeared to be scrapped following an evident setback from Marcus Gilbert at right tackle, who was a full participant in practice on Wednesday but missed the final two days of practice and is not expected to play for the third straight week.
Yesterday, word came down that wide receiver Martavis Bryant’s status for the game was downgraded to questionable due to an illness. Usually when a player gets downgraded the day before a game, there is good reason for it, and it’s a bad sign about him playing.
Bryant is averaging 2.5 catches for 45.5 yards through the first four games of the season, including a touchdown, but while he has made some nice catches along the way, the only real standout game was the home opener.
This would be his second crack at playing in Heinz Field again, and the Steelers and their fans alike are just waiting for an excuse to cheer his name. That will prove difficult to do if he can’t even get on the field.
Should he fail to dress, that would greatly increase, I think, the role of Justin Hunter, who played nine snaps last week in his first action of the season. Both he and Eli Rogers would figure to dress, should Bryant fail to do so.
It would also likely mean an even more active role for JuJu Smith-Schuster in the passing game. While he has played nearly as much as Bryant has, he is still behind in terms of targets. But of course the team cannot be at full strength without their talented third-year receiver.