Offensive coordinator Todd Haley, who pushed hard for the Steelers to draft Bryant last year, called what Bryant was able to do during the second half of last season a “big thing” during a 30-minute Steelers Nation Unite ‘Weekly Huddle’ fan forum session on Wednesday.
“We are looking for him to come in and make a push against Markus Wheaton for that No. 2 spot and continue give us big-time production, specifically in the red area where a big target like that can make a big impact,” Haley said.
“When young guys come in at the receiver position and contribute early like he did, it is a big thing,” Haley said. “He took a lot of pressure off Antonio Brown and Markus Wheaton … he really had a big impact on our offense. He is a guy we are going to work real hard throughout the offseason and, like all young players, he should make progress from year one to year two.”
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 percent of the snaps until the postseason, so there's upside here from a playing time standpoint. If he earns a starting role this offseason -- and it looks like he will -- he’ll be a middle round pick in 2015 fantasy drafts.
I was convinced Gordon would come off his suspension eager and determined to prove to his teammates and fans that he had dedicated himself to coming back ready to contribute. It looked that way against Atlanta, but it didn’t in the past six quarters against Buffalo and Indianapolis.
Some could put this on the quarterback. I don’t. Gordon has seemed confused and lackadaisical. By the coach’s admission, Gordon has not gone all-out on some balls. He missed some key catches that great receivers make. The fact that it didn’t happen in the first three games is more than disappointing. His pride and, perhaps, the presence of Johnny Manziel are the only intangibles to grab onto to trust he improves.
Gordon has a tough matchup with the Bengals, who are #2 in WR aFPA, but both Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant went over the 100-yard mark against Cincinnati last week. It's tough to bench Gordon given his considerable talent, but the facts remain -- he hasn't looked very good in the last two games and he's undergoing a change at quarterback. Manziel may very well turn out to be a good thing for Gordon, but there's no guarantee that he's going to be any better at delivering the ball than Brian Hoyer. (In fairness, it would be tough for Manziel to play worse than Hoyer has the past few games.)
Saturday, December 6, 2014, 7:15pm
When the rookie receiver was disappointed in being deactivated for the first six games of his pro career, he went to Brown for advice. When he made a splash immediately upon seeing the field, Bryant recognized the comparisons to Brown.
So now that he's experiencing the first slump of his short career, Bryant, you guessed it, is asking Brown where to go from here. Bryant is doing everything he can to emulate Brown. Opposing defenses indicate he's proving to be a reasonable — if young — facsimile.
"They're treating me like a little 'AB' now," Bryant said Thursday. "So I'm just really following him, trying to do what he does. He just says you've got to outwork them. Double-team or not, you've got to go out and execute your plays. I'm just working hard, trying to get better."
Bryant's breakout onto the NFL scene has slowed. After six touchdown receptions — at least one in each game — over the first four games of his career, the capricious, 6-foot-4, 22-year-old has had just three catches for 34 yards and no TDs over his past two games.
Monday, October 13, 2014, 9:49am
Roethlisberger barely overthrew a wide-open Wheaton in the end zone in the fourth quarter. Earlier in a game that the Steelers actually controlled through the first 15 minutes, Roethlisberger fired a pass that Wheaton wasn’t ready for on a critical third down inside the Browns' 10-yard line.
Roethlisberger apparently expected to Wheaton to snap his head around sooner. That Wheaton looked surprised to see the ball coming his way spoke volumes about how alarmingly lacking the Steelers have been when it comes to details, something that goes straight to the top of the coaching staff.
The two don't seem to be on the same page and it was again Antonio Brown who went over 100 yards with a TD, even seeing a lot of time against Browns stud CB Joe Haden. Steeler WRs have historically put up fantasy-worthy numbers over the years but so far Wheaton hasn't had more than 60 yards receiving in a game since Week 1.
Tuesday, September 16, 2014, 10:21am
There continues to be no splitting of carries at RB for the Steelers. It's the second-straight week Bell has dominated snaps. At this point, consider Blount just a handcuff who will steal an in-close TD from time to time.
The Steelers also used mostly 3 WR sets in the game, trailing most of it: Markus Wheaton (58), Justin Brown (55) and Antonio Brown (52). Antonio Brown missed some time while getting checked for a concussion but did return. Justin Brown finished with just one catch for six yards while Wheaton's line was 5-38-0.
Wednesday, September 10, 2014, 7:02pm
Friday, September 5, 2014, 5:45pm
Steelers WR Lance Moore (groin, out) missed practice all week and is out for Week 1. With Moore out, look for a few extra targets for Antonio Brown and Markus Wheaton, and more two-TE sets with Heath Miller and Matt Spaeth.
Friday, September 5, 2014, 12:40pm
With Browns Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden expected to shadow Antonio Brown's every move, Steelers' No. 2 receiver Markus Wheaton could get a lot of balls thrown his way in Week 1. The Browns likely will line up rookie Justin Gilbert, and he could be vulnerable to the kind of double-move that resulted in Wheaton's best play -- which went for a touchdown -- in the preseason. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger loves Wheaton, and he could look for the 2013 third-round pick early and often against the Browns.
It's tough to start a relative unknown in Week 1, but Wheaton may be worth it for owners looking for a WR3/flex to fill out their starting lineup.
Coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday that the team will use Brown as a punt returner this season as well. There was some thought that the addition of the speedy Dri Archer in the draft would lead to a change in roles for Brown, but Tomlin said that Archer will only be an option for the team alongside Brown.
As the story points out, that announcement naturally leads to thoughts about the injury risk that Brown will take on by expanding his portfolio, but Tomlin said that the team won’t live in fear of injury when it comes to deploying a player they believe can help them. Brown is again poised for a huge season as one of the top fantasy WRs you don't have to draft in the first round. Brown is ranked 8th this week among our WRs but will likely see a lot of Brown's corner Joe Haden who is one of the best in the business.
Wide receiver Martavis Bryant might be looking at the equivalent of a redshirt in his first NFL season.
Bryant left the Steelers’ final preseason game early Thursday night with an A/C sprain in his shoulder, and the injury is expected to sideline the fourth-round pick for an extended period.
Depending on the severity of the injury, which is a separated shoulder, the Steelers could place Bryant on the short-term injured reserve list after he makes the 53-man roster.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014, 8:23pm
Brown put up some awe-inspiring numbers: 110 receptions and a franchise single-season best 1,499 receiving yards.
While the spotlight will shine on Brown, there will be plenty attention given his supporting cast. Roethlisberger has spent much of training camp and the preseason adapting to several new faces, including free agent signees Lance Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey, and rookie Martavis Bryant.
Roethlisberger, too, will have a new starter flanked opposite Brown. Markus Wheaton, a second-year receiver who was slowed by a broken finger during his rookie season, seems to have settled in with the offense.
There still needs to be some balance in the offense with the running game. But if the Steelers are going to air it out, the new WR members will be challenged to duplicate the 2013 efforts of Jerricho Cotchery and Emmanuel Sanders. They combined for 113 receptions, 1,342 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns. We expect Wheaton to put up solid numbers as the Steelers WR2, and could provide some depth to your fantasy team.
The Steelers decided not to re-sign Emmanuel Sanders because they believed Markus Wheaton could develop into a dependable No. 2 receiver opposite Antonio Brown. Roethlisberger has been impressed with his development since the end of last season.
“He’s learning and growing fast, and we need him to,” Roethlisberger said. “That’s what’s great about him. He doesn’t make the same mistake twice. He’s busting his butt every day in practice. I grabbed him upstairs [Monday] and talked to him about something he did a little wrong in the game. He had nothing to do with the play, but he was heartbroken that he screwed something up that he probably shouldn’t have. He puts that work in. He’s watched [Brown]. He knows what it takes to be a pro.”
“He’s going to be key because, if we don’t have another receiver, people can just watch A.B.,” Roethlisberger said. “We all see what A.B. can do. We need him to step up because we can’t afford for teams to put three guys on A.B. I hope Wheaton is that guy.
“He’s a young guy people don’t know about yet. He hasn’t earned that respect, which is probably rightfully so, because he hasn’t done much. But I’m excited for him because I think he’s going to surprise a lot of people.”
The Steelers play a lot of three-WR sets, so we’re expecting big snaps for Wheaton even if Lance Moore is on the field for two-WR sets, though it currently looks like Wheaton will be the WR2. He was a 3rd round pick and is a terrific athlete. He’s not big (5’11”) but he fits the mold of a typical Steeler receiver. Despite a short resume, Wheaton is a breakout candidate if he sees big snaps in his second year. In the last four seasons, Hines Ward, Antonio Brown (x2) and Sanders have averaged 65-848-4.5 in the Steelers’ WR2 role.
Thursday, August 21, 2014, 12:26pm
Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger challenged wide receiver Martavis Bryant earlier this week to practice with more of a purpose, to practice like Pro Bowl receiver Antonio Brown. If Roethlisberger isn’t handling the rookie fourth-round pick with kid gloves, that is because the Steelers think Bryant can be an asset in the passing game -- and sooner rather than later. The 6-foot-4, 211-pound Bryant has a unique blend of size and speed, and he is the kind of wideout that the Steelers have rarely had with Roethlisberger at quarterback.
Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger is excelling in the no-huddle. The offensive line is keeping him grass stain-free. Antonio Brown is turning short catches into long gains, and September isn't even here yet.
For all that's going well with the Steelers' offense — and how many times has that been written in August during recent seasons — its regular-season success or failure might hinge on a player with one career start.
The starting wide receiver job opposite Brown is Markus Wheaton's to lose — and, so far, the third-round draft pick from last season is winning it. He turned an inside-out move and solo coverage into a 16-yard touchdown catch against Buffalo, and Brown was as happy afterward as he was.
“I think it's definitely a key — a key — for him to make those plays when he gets one-on-one matchups,” Brown said Monday.
The story goes on to say that the Steelers have other options, but Wheaton clearly is the best. They'd prefer to keep Lance Moore in the slot rather than move him outside and, while fourth-round pick Martavis Bryant and 2013 pick Justin Brown are having impressive days in camp, both need more polishing. Steeler WRs have averaged 65-848-4.5 over the past four years and Wheaton is ranked 49th on our WR list. According to his ADP, GMs are taking a late-round flier on him in the 14th round.
Thursday, August 14, 2014, 10:16pm
The Steelers play a lot of three-WR sets, so we’re expecting big snaps for Wheaton even if Lance Moore is on the field for two-WR sets. (Emmanuel Sanders played 76% of the snaps in 2013, while Jerricho Cotchery played 60%.) Wheaton was a 3rd round pick and is a terrific athlete. He’s not big (5’11”) but he fits the mold of a typical Steeler receiver. Despite a short resume, Wheaton is a breakout candidate if he sees big snaps in his second year. In the last four seasons, Hines Ward, Antonio Brown (x2) and Sanders have averaged 65-848-4.5 in the Steeler’s WR2 role.
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