Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant has been suspended for the entire 2016 season after violating the league’s substance abuse policy, which makes two suspensions in two years for a player who is heading to rehab while his teammates get ready for the start of Pittsburgh’s offseason program.
Bryant’s absence will force the Steelers to look elsewhere at receiver in an attempt to replace the big plays that Bryant has provided during his two years with the team. Antonio Brown remains at the top of the depth chart at receiver, but Markus Wheaton, Sammie Coates, Darrius Heyward-Bey and potential additions to the group will need to do more.
During an appearance on an NFL Media podcast with Michael Robinson and Nate Burleson, running back Le’Veon Bell didn’t express much concern about the offense’s ability to succeed in Bryant’s absence. He pointed to the way the offense produced last year despite injuries that kept him and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger out of the lineup at times as a reason to believe all will be well in 2016.
“I think the sky is the limit for our offense regardless,” Bell said. “I look back when I watched last year, I didn’t play and the offense it still don’t matter. The times when Ben [Roethlisberger] was out and [Michael] Vick came in, we still came in and moved the ball. When I came out, DeAngelo [Williams] came in. We got guys, we got depth and I think the fact that we have all of that depth and we have playmakers everywhere, I think our offense is still going to be just as dynamic. Obviously Martavis would make it a lot easier but we still have that next man up and that’s the kind of things we’ve been doing.”
Bryant’s absence isn’t a positive, but the Steelers are hardly lacking for other offensive weapons. As long as they’re healthy, it’s hard to argue with the running back’s take on what lies ahead on offense.