Bryant’s comments to ESPN’s Dan Graziano about wanting to have a “man-to-man” with his Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback are a bit surprising, largely because the conversation hadn’t happened yet. Bryant, suspended for the 2016 season, rejoined the team for offseason workouts in May, and the two spent a month in the same offense together before players broke camp in mid-June.
Apparently, they completed a few passes, exchanged pleasantries and that was it.
Perhaps Bryant’s new comment heightens the urgency to make it happen. And it should happen.
Bryant and Roethlisberger can coexist in the Steelers’ offense regardless, but understanding each other can only help the duo and the unit as a whole.
Surely Bryant was affected by Roethlisberger telling the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette before last season that he felt Bryant lied to him and the team felt “let down” by the explosive playmaker.
Roethlisberger has taken a tough-love approach with Bryant before, saying publicly he needed to “toughen up” before an AFC wild-card game in Cincinnati following the 2015 season, during which Bryant caught a body-contorting touchdown to help seal Pittsburgh’s victory. It’s as though Roethlisberger is trying to draw something out of his immensely talented receiver.
There was no hiding the Steelers’ frustrations with Bryant, who has missed 20 games due to drug-related offenses but has since said he’s gotten himself clean. Hearing that message from the quarterback can’t be easy, though. Bryant wants to be a catalyst for the Steelers’ offense, not a source of criticism.
“Hopefully we’ll have it before the season starts,” Bryant told Graziano. “If not, that’s fine. I’m still going to go out and perform and do what I have to do to be the best teammate I can be.”
Sometimes team or player meetings seem hollow, but in this case it’s necessary. Connecting before training camp would be about a year overdue.