Steelers Super Bowl Odds Take Hit With Martavis Bryant Suspension
Martavis Bryant sat out the first four games to the 2015 NFL season due to an NFL imposed suspension and it contributed to the Pittsburgh Steelers starting somewhat slow on offense.
In 2016, Ben Roethlisberger and co. may have to go a lot longer without one of their top offensive weapons.
Season Long Ban
Per reports, Bryant is now facing a full season-long ban for once again violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
— Dejan Kovacevic (@Dejan_Kovacevic) March 12, 2016
Bryant’s substance abuse issues seemed to be a thing of the past after cleaning himself up last year, as he had no reported issues after sitting out of Pittsburgh’s first four regular season games. Bryant picked up where he left off from a strong rookie season from that point on, nearly doubling his career high in receptions (50), while also posting a career high 765 receiving yards and six touchdowns.
Bryant’s second season could have been even better had he not been suspended, while it was also initially reported that he didn’t make it back until after a fifth missed game due to not being fully ready to play.
Serious Step Back
The case is much different heading int 2016, as Bryant’s most recent offense did not take the normal leap to a 10-game ban, but instead has him at risk of missing a full season.
Per reports, it appears Bryant has missed “multiple” drug tests since last being suspended and may have violated the league’s substance abuse policy more than once in the past year. Because of that, he has been issued with a full year ban thus far, although he plans to fight the suspension.
Bryant at least has noted the importance of his issue and the ban, as reports have recently emerged that he is planning on checking himself into rehab. According to those reports, his substance abuse problem is more “coping” based than due to partying.
Bryant was supposed to be a huge piece to the offensive puzzle, but ended up sitting out of 11 games in his first two NFL seasons. If sidelined for an entire year in 2016, his future with the Steelers could suddenly be in doubt, and more importantly for the team this season, they would be without a big play threat for an extended period of time.
Pittsburgh does have elite #1 wide receiver Antonio Brown to lean on, while Markus Wheaton could also step up again as the second receiver. Star running back Le’Veon Bell (torn knee ligaments) should also be ready for the 2016 season, while newly signed tight end LaDarius Green could also see an expanded role in the passing game.
That could off-set the loss of Bryant and it’s still possible the Steelers are deep enough and explosive enough without Bryant that they could make a deep playoff run. That being said, this takes a component away from the Steelers’ offense down the field, as Bryant was one more deadly weapon the opposition had to worry about.
Losing Bryant for the season doesn’t crush Pittsburgh’s chances of winning the AFC North or chasing down a Super Bowl, but it certainly makes them a worse bet than many figured just days ago.
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