In order for a player to be suspended for marijuana use, Steeler WR Martavis Bryant would have had to have failed multiple tests - as many as four reportedly - since entering the NFL last year.
HC Mike Tomlin declined to get into the specifics of the testing but said that Bryant will be able to participate in meetings, training and rehab, though he is not allowed to play or practice.
"We're in the process of working out a plan and what's appropriate for him the individual, not the player," Tomlin said. "I think that's an element of this we need to keep in perspective as we move forward with him. He has issues that he's dealing with that are bigger than football. We're committed to assisting the man in that."
Bryant, who had eight touchdowns in 10 games last season, could face a 10-game suspension for another failed test and a one-year ban after that.
Tuesday, September 1, 2015, 2:46pm
The Pittsburgh Steelers have created nearly $6 million of cap room for this season after restructuring the contracts of receiver Antonio Brown, tight end Heath Miller and kicker Shaun Suisham on Tuesday, league sources told ESPN.
The Steelers plan to use the majority of the extra cap room to offset the large number of injured players who have been counting against the team's salary cap.
The move is expected to end Brown's contract demands for now. Sources tell ESPN that the Steelers, in a rare move for the team, moved up $2 million of Brown's salary into a signing bonus for this season, sources told ESPN. The restructuring raises Brown's salary from $6 million to $8 million this season.
Martavis Bryant's second-year leap will be put on hold to start the NFL season.
The Pittsburgh Steelers receiver has been suspended four games for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse after his appeal was denied Monday, the team announced.
Sources informed of the situation told NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport that Bryant's suspension is for multiple failed marijuana tests.
The 6-foot-4 wideout with a 4.42 seconds 40-speed was a big-play machine in 10 games as a rookie. He led the NFL with a 21.1-yards-per-catch average. Bryant finished with 26 receptions for 549 yards and eight touchdowns in just 306 regular season snaps.
Bryant was slated to open the season in three-receiver sets behind All-Pro Antonio Brown and Markus Wheaton -- who've flashed during the preseason. Bryant's big-play ability was one reason the Steelers have been mentioned as a candidate to lead the NFL in offensive production in 2015. Wheaton will at least get a four game bump in value while Bryant is out. Sammie Coates could see more time with Bryant suspended.
Monday, August 31, 2015, 12:53pm
Brandon LaFell, who played more snaps than any New England Patriots wide receiver in 2014, remains out of practice and thus puts his availability for the season-opening game Sept. 10 against the Steelers in jeopardy.
LaFell, who was spotted with a boot on his left foot in the offseason, opened training camp on the physically unable to perform list. If he remains on the PUP list at the final roster cutdown Sept. 5, he wouldn't be eligible to play for the first six weeks of the season.
LaFell's status, coupled with a run of injuries at the position, contributed to the team signing veteran Reggie Wayne to a one-year contract last Tuesday.
The Steelers quest to find a healthy kicker has led them to trade for one.
The Steelers lost Shaun Suisham to a torn ACL in the preseason opener, and replacement Garrett Hartley suffered a hamstring injury Saturday that looked like it was going to keep him out of the regular season opener.
Now the Steelers have a reliable veteran in the last year of his contract, giving them some stability at the position going into the season. Scobee should climb the rankings and get lots of chances in what is expected to be a high-powered offense.
Monday, August 31, 2015, 9:15am
Last time Tomlin took that tone postgame, Shaun Suisham was headed for injured reserve with a torn ACL.
Now, if Hartley's out for an extended period, the offense still doesn't know what to expect from the field-goal unit when it approaches the red zone.
The leftover options are serviceable but not overly exciting.
The Steelers can revisit recent tryout players Alex Henery, a career 86 percent kicker before his 1-of-5 performance got him fired in Detroit last year, or veteran Jay Feely, who attempted four kicks for Chicago last year (he went 3-of-4).
The Steelers could be looking for a third kicker in four weeks. No free agent kicker was replacing Suisham, a top-10 kicker in the league, but Hartley was a good backup. Hartley is pretty consistent, although he doesn't have a booming leg for kickoff returns -- 80 percent of his kickoffs have been returned this preseason, the story said.
This is worrisome because it shows a lack of good judgment and a lack of self control. It appears that Bryant may be going down the same road as Josh Gordon -- an incredibly talented receiver who can't stay clean while he plays professional football. The good news is that Bryant is set to return in Week 5 and should have a large role in the offense. We believe he'll be a good value in the 8th or 9th round after his ADP takes an understandable hit.
It looks like the Steelers will be without both Bryant and LeVeon Bell to start the season. Third year wideout Markus Wheaton will have every opportunity to live up to the hype Ben Roethlisberger has been sending his way this off-season. Bryant's stock will take a hit, but we'd expect him to have a big role when he returns. Our rankings are based on projections, and we've basically reduced his output by 25 percent, which makes him a high-end WR4 in standard formats and a low-end WR in PPR. If owners can get through the first month, he's a player who should really be able to help down the stretch. There's also the possibility that the suspension is reduced, which would boost his draft value. As for Wheaton, he should be startable while Bryant is out, but we're not too bullish on his season-long production once Bryant returns.
The 35-year-old Vick is a far cry from the star he once was, and he’s coming off a season in which he was largely disappointing when he played for the Jets. But he was the best veteran quarterback available to the Steelers when Gradkowski got hurt.
If Roethlisberger stays healthy, Vick may never see the field in Pittsburgh. But if Roethlisberger goes down, the Steelers know they have a backup with experience.
Vick struggles to stay healthy himself, especially because of his reckless running style. He's always had a strong arm, and given the talent around him should he see the field, the potential is there for him to put up fantasy numbers in this offense.
Michael Vick said all along that a training camp injury would open a door for him to get back into the NFL.
That may have happened over the weekend.
Vick will be visiting with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Tuesday, per NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport. ESPN first reported the development.
His visit may have been caused by an injury to backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, who left Sunday's game with a hand injury that will reportedly require surgery. This seems to be the ideal backup situation for Vick should the Steelers end up signing him. Unlike his short tenure in New York, he will not be forced into an awkward dual role of mentor and top competitor, the story said. Should something happen to Ben Roethlisberger, and Vick was indeed signed as the backup, he would have a ton of fantasy value in this impressive offense loaded with weapons.
Sunday, August 23, 2015, 8:24pm
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles followed up a strong performance in the team's Aug. 14 preseason opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers with another solid effort Saturday night in a 22-12 loss to the New York Giants.
Bortles, in his second season as Jacksonville's quarterback, completed 8-of-16 passes for 98 yards, to lead the team on three scoring drives, each resulting in a field goal. While the numbers were relatively modest, head coach Gus Bradley said he was pleased with the young quarterback's effort.
"I think he took another good step," Bradley said, per the team's official website. "To go on the road and to stack up another good performance, he's learning. ... What I'm pleased about is he's seeing some benefits of playing some pretty consistent quarterback. We just need to add to it."
The 23-year-old Bortles, the third overall pick in the 2014 draft, said he was generally satisfied with the offensive execution against the Giants, but noted the team needs to work on finishing drives.
There is some potential there for Bortles but he likely won't get drafted in typical leagues. He has a young, talented group of WRs and the team signed TE Julius Thomas as a red zone threat. Bortles will need the line to improve in front of him on top of developing with the young WRs.
The bulky black brace Cards QB Carson Palmer wears on his left knee is about the only sign he is less than nine months removed from his second torn anterior cruciate ligament.
That and, well, the way head coach Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians still sometimes shakes his head in disbelief that three weeks into training camp, Palmer isn’t just healthy, he’s better.
And maybe better than he’s been at any point since he made back-to-back Pro Bowls in 2005 and 2006 while playing for the Cincinnati Bengals.
“Carson is in great shape, mentally and physically,” Arians told USA TODAY Sports.
Plenty of coaches gush these sorts of platitudes about their quarterback this time of year. But it means something coming from a quarterback guru like Arians, who has tutored passers like Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Andrew Luck.
The story said that through three weeks of training camp, Palmer has been among the Cardinals’ most consistent players, something that backs up numerous reports we've had here at 4for4. In a recent fully-padded practice, he zipped pass after pass across the middle of the field to Larry Fitzgerald, and nailed several deep touchdown passes to second-year receiver John Brown — all while playing against a secondary that includes stars Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu. Then, in his first live action since suffering the knee injury on Nov. 9, Palmer went 4-for-4 for 77 yards to lead the Cardinals to a touchdown in his one series of work in the preseason opener against Kansas City last week. All signs are pointing to Palmer having very nice, later-round value at the QB position, definitely something to note if you're waiting to draft at the position.
That's good news for the Steelers, who are moving the talented wide receiver to the slot during training camp to add another dimension to an already-dangerous offensive attack.
''We have a lot of potential,'' Wheaton said. ''I guess we'll see how it goes.''
The results were positive in 2014 as the Steelers flourished on offense, breaking franchise records and finishing No. 2 in the league. Wheaton was a big part of the attack, playing on the outside and in the slot at times.
That the Steelers' 2013 third-round pick now gets an entire offseason to learn the nuances of a position he never played in college at Oregon State.
''We ran a lot of two-receiver sets in college, so I was outside a lot,'' Wheaton said.
Wheaton estimated the switch to slot came around mid-season last year, when he had a package of simplified plays designed for him.
Wheaton has worked on the outside and in the slot during training camp practices, and says he doesn't have a preference on where he plays. A few weeks ago, QB Ben Roethlisberger said Wheaton would break out this year and see time on the outside while moving to the slot in three receiver sets. The statement had those expecting Martavis Bryant to bust out this season wondering what exactly was going on, even though Bryant was injured at the time. Meanwhile, we continued to rank Bryant as a WR2 after an impressive season playing only about 60-percent of the snaps. It looks like Wheaton could play both inside and outside, but the WR2 value still seems to be with Bryant.
Sunday, August 16, 2015, 3:34pm
But having trusted veteran Bruce Gradkowski back allows the Steelers front office to exhale. The team activated Gradkowski off the physically unable to perform list on Sunday, meaning the shoulder injury has healed and the 10-year veteran can start practicing today. He should get some run next Sunday at Heinz Field when the Packers come to town for a preseason game.
Third-string quarterback Landry Jones has had a few bright moments in camp, but his 39-of-78 passing performance for 328 yards, one touchdown and one interception through two preseason games won't convince the Steelers they have a full-time backup. Pittsburgh is giving Jones every chance to earn a spot on the team or audition for another team.
Saturday, August 15, 2015, 11:05pm
Martavis Bryant is fast and big. And now he is physical.
The second-year wide receiver ran through a would-be hold attempt by Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Davon House on the sixth play of Friday's preseason game that resulted in a 44-yard touchdown reception from Ben Roethlisberger.
Bryant, who caught three passes for 55 yards, attributes his new-found physicality to his offseason workouts that included learning mixed martial arts.
“My offseason workouts and me finishing strong and fighting through that contact,” Bryant said of how he was able to beat House. “Being physical is part of the game and if you are not physical, you aren't going to have success.”
Bryant appears to be ready to take his game to a new level after a rookie season in which he caught nine touchdown passes in 11 games. However, according to Roethlisberger, there is still work to be done. Bryant had an opportunity for another long play in the first half but couldn't keep his feet in bounds on a pass from Landry Jones. Ben put a bit of a damper on Bryant this season when he said he expected Markus Wheaton to be the big breakout WR this year. Meanwhile, we continue to rank Bryant as a mid-range WR2 after an impressive season last year. We feel the upside continues to be with Bryant.
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