“Good — learning some of the stuff we put in last year he didn’t know about, remembering things that we had in before,” Roethlisberger said. “He looks like a stud, as usual, so we’re excited for him to be on the field this year and help us out.”
Bryant has started eight games out of a possible 48 to start his career. He played in 10 games in 2014 and 11 games in 2015, but couldn’t stay on the field after multiple violations of the NFL’s substance abuse policy. When he was on the field, Bryant was a deep threat option for the Steelers. He had 549 yards and eight touchdowns on 26 receptions during his rookie campaign. Bryant had 765 yards and six scores on 50 receptions during his sophomore season. He has averaged 17.3 yards per catch.
Despite losing Markus Wheaton in free agency, the Steelers have anything but a bare cupboard when it comes to pass catchers.
The franchise drafted JuJu Smith-Schuster in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Its depth chart also includes Eli Rogers, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Sammie Coates, Justin Hunter, Cobi Hamilton and others to compliment all-world talent Antonio Brown.
But Bryant could be the biggest benefactor of Brown’s defensive-drawing tendencies. He comes in this season 10 pounds heavier. Bryant said last month that he spent the offseason bulking up to 225 pounds.
Roethlisberger’s backing is important for Bryant after the quarterback’s comments last year. In January of 2016 he told a Pittsburgh radio show that Bryant needs to “toughen up.” He is also on record saying he was disappointed about losing the speedster.
In May, “Big Ben” told the Post-Gazette that Bryant has to “win back everybody’s trust.”
“It’s more than just me,” Roethlisberger said. “He has to win back everybody’s trust. I would hope he comes up to me and we go somewhere to talk in private. After that, he has to show with his work ethic and by staying clean that he cares — really cares — about us. If he does that, it’ll be huge. He can really help us. He can be so great.”
When Bryant came in at the Steelers’ first OTA session, he spoke of increased maturity.
He also welcomed a baby boy with his girlfriend on March 23.
“I changed my whole life around compared to how I used to be,” Bryant told Steelers.com. “I developed better habits, who I hang around. I am a family man. Me developing my life and getting back on track.”
The sentiment is what the Steelers want to hear, but Bryant must follow through to truly earn the trust of everyone in the ‘Steel City.’ He is under contract through 2018.
If Bryant stays healthy, expect at least six scores. He should see plenty of looks, even with the Steelers bringing in the rookie Smith-Schuster.