The reed-thin rookie who caught eight touchdowns even as he struggled to grasp the playbook is gone, replaced by a more confident — and decidedly more muscular— playmaker who is ready to develop into something other than just a one-dimensional threat.
Bryant added 20 pounds of muscle over the spring, most of it in his well-tattooed biceps. The team didn't ask Bryant to get into the gym and start lifting more. He took it upon himself following a valuable lesson he learned during a rocky training camp last summer.
Pittsburgh went 8-2 with Bryant in the lineup and he made nearly all of his 26 receptions count despite limited playing time. Expect those limits to vanish.
"We're asking him to do more, to move around a little bit, play frontside, backside, know things better," Roethlisberger said. "We're going to count on him in the no-huddle. Last year when we were calling stuff he was asking everyone what to do. We feel more comfortable with him knowing what to do so hopefully we can translate that into playing faster."
Bryant averaged 2.8 catches for 56 yards and 0.82 TD in the final 11 games of the season (including a 5-61-1 outing against Baltimore in the playoffs). Thanks to the incredible touchdown rate, those are high-end WR2 numbers in standard formats and solid WR2 numbers in PPR. What's more, he didn't play 60% of the snaps until the postseason, so there's upside here from a playing time standpoint. With the news that Markus Wheaton is moving to the slot full time, it appears that Bryant will be getting starter’s snaps in 2015.