Steelers’ Martavis Bryant Handed 4-Game Suspension
A few months ago the Pittsburgh Steelers may have looked like a legit Super Bowl contender. Vegas seemed to think so, as entering this week they still held strong 22/1 odds to win it all.
Those odds may start to come down soon.
Per reports, the Steelers will be without yet another player when they start the 2015 NFL season, as explosive wide receiver Martavis Bryant was handed a four-game ban by the league on Thursday afternoon.
Steelers WR Martavis Bryant is facing 4-game suspension for violating Substance Abuse Policy, per league sources. Suspension under appeal.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 27, 2015
Losses Keep Coming
Bryant is just another big name to add to the pile, as the Steelers just lost offensive lineman Maurkice Pouncey to a leg injury (out eight weeks) and will also be without star running back Le’Veon Bell for the first two games of the year due to his own suspension.
Pittsburgh had been talking up their other young talent at wide receiver, but now we know why: because they feared a suspension for Bryant. The reality is Bryant was their second best wide receiver behind only Antonio Brown, and his big play presence absolutely will be missed. This is a guy who scored eight touchdowns as a rookie, and did so in just eight games. He’s an impressive down field threat, especially with Brown keeping him from getting double covered. It’s highly arguable the Steelers could have a tough time on offense without their key players in place.
While there is no denying Martavis Bryant’s talent or impact in the offense, the Steelers still have some solid talent to fall back on. The team was talking up Markus Wheaton all summer for two reasons: because they knew this suspension was coming and because he’s also pretty good.
Wheaton has the speed and overall skill-set to perform well in Bryant’s role, and even if he’s not the guy to step up, rookie speedster Sammie Coates could be. Together, the two may not be able to completely make up for the loss of Bryant, but the drop-off may not be as bad as some may think.
Bryant is fully expected to appeal the suspension, but it’s documented that process takes forever and usually doesn’t work. Teammate Le’Veon Bell waited months to get his appeal heard and decided upon, and his three-game ban still ended up being a two game suspension. Bryant may have an argument, but he’s probably still going to miss the first four games of the year. That puts the Steelers behind the eight ball a bit, and in a tough AFC North, they’re suddenly no guarantees to make the playoffs – much less a Super Bowl.
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