2017 South Side Questions – Game Edition: How Big A Role For Martavis Bryant

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 – How big a role will Martavis Bryant play in the offense today?

Is this the biggest question on everybody’s mind today? I think it is for me. We basically have not seen wide receiver Martavis Bryant play a significant role in the offense for over a month. He has not received more than three targets in a single game since Week Five, receiving three or fewer in the next two games, and then benched the next.

What followed was a bye week during which he was said to have been good both in the locker room and on the field. He gave all the right answers to reporters during the week and at least outwardly has seemed to accept his position now that the trade deadline has passed.

Many of his teammates still say things in the vein of the team needing him if they hope to win a Super Bowl. I’m not so sure that’s true, but having the Martavis Bryant of 2014 and 2015 certainly would not diminish their chances.

While rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster has continued to command more and more attention—he caught seven of 10 targets in the Steelers’ last game and leads the team with four receiving touchdowns—there can still be footballs to go around depending on how much the offense turns to running the ball.

Bryant and Ben Roethlisberger have really struggled to build a chemistry that carries over onto the field on Sundays, as evidenced by the fact that the pair have just a 50-percent completion ratio, averaging just 6.5 yards per pass attempt.

The wide receiver is understandably frustrated with both his lack of production and lack of playing time, but what’s done is done, and all parties can only move forward at this point. How that translates onto the field remains to be seen.

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