Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant is back with the team on Thursday after missing Wednesday due to a personal issue and during his talk with the media he revealed that he won’t be returning kickoffs Sunday at Heinz Field against the New England Patriots, according to Eric Hagman of 93.7 The Fan.
Martavis Bryant is back at #Steelers practice after missing yesterday. He confirmed he's dealing w a family issue. When I asked him if that makes it difficult to get ready for the Patriots, he said "No, it just makes me pissed off even more." Also, he won't return kicks on Sun
— Eric Hagman (@esh714) December 14, 2017
While Bryant has provided an occasional spark on a few of his kickoff returns since being given the opportunity to start doing so several weeks ago, he’s also had a few issues when it comes to him cleanly fielding the football. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin addressed those issues immediately after the team’s Sunday night game against the Baltimore Ravens and again on Tuesday during his weekly press conference.
“We’ll keep working,” Tomlin said Tuesday during his weekly press conference when asked how he plans on going about helping Bryant improve at fielding kickoffs more cleanly. “You guys wondered why you hadn’t seen him before recent weeks, now you know. We’ll keep working. It’s been a nice shot in our arm. It’s provided something else for other people to defend. It’s been a way of getting him the ball a little bit more. We’ll keep working and see where the road leads us.”
Based on what Bryant reportedly said Thursday, the Steelers road with Bryant as the team’s kickoff returner has come to a dead-end already, or at least for this coming Sunday against the Patriots. That’s probably not a bad thing being as the Patriots have made it a habit of kicking the football high and short of the goal-line this season in an attempt to force the opposing team to cleanly field and return it.
With rookie wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster now back this week from his one-game suspension, it’s probably easy to speculate that he and backup running back Fitzgerald Toussaint will be the two deep kickoff returners for the Steelers Sunday against the Patriots.