Entering the 2014 season, the Pittsburgh Steelers depth chart at wide receiver was anything but certain. Antonio Brown was the proven leader of the group, but after him was a second year pro in Markus Wheaton, veteran wide out Lance Moore, second year receiver Justin Brown and the raw rookie from Clemson Martavis Bryant. The first quarter of the season was anything but smooth as the team searched for a true No. 2 receiver to emerge from the group.
Todd Haley has always stressed competition among his offensive players, especially wide receivers. You aren't given a job, you have to earn it. That is essentially what Bryant did leading up to a spectacular second half of the season where the rookie caught 28 passes for 549 yards and 8 touchdowns, all in just 10 games played.
With his rookie season behind him, Bryant looks to make his mark on the Steelers' offense, but his offensive coordinator isn't relegating him to the No. 3 wide receiver role.
"We are looking for him to come in and make a push against Markus Wheaton for that No. 2 spot and continue give us big-time production, specifically in the red area where a big target like that can make a big impact," Haley said in a Steelers Nation Unite interview with fans.
One simple fact which can't be ignored is the Steelers' record with Bryant in the lineup compared to when he isn't on the field. With Bryant the team is 8-3, without they are 3-3.
"When young guys come in at the receiver position and contribute early like he did, it is a big thing," Haley said. "He took a lot of pressure off Antonio Brown and Markus Wheaton...he really had a big impact on our offense. He is a guy we are going to work real hard throughout the offseason and, like all young players, he should make progress from year one to year two."
Bryant looks to contribute in a big way in 2015, but if he heeds the words of Haley, he will be doing whatever it takes to take the No. 2 wide receiver spot away from Markus Wheaton.