Steelers' Martavis Bryant a work in progress

August, 12, 2014
Aug 12
11:00
AM ET
LATROBE, Pa. -- Pittsburgh Steelers' Martavis Bryant could not have played the role of talented but raw wide receiver any better than he did last Saturday night at MetLife Stadium.

[+] EnlargeMartavis Bryant
AP Photo/Keith SrakocicDespite a roller-coaster of a first preseason game, Steelers rookie receiver Martavis Bryant continues to work on his development in camp.
Bryant botched the catch on a punt return and, fortunately for the Steelers, was able to fall on the ball. He wasn't as lucky when the Steelers were mounting a late drive.

Bryant caught a 14-yard pass that put the Steelers in New York territory, but when he got up to run after initially falling down he fumbled and the Giants recovered to seal a 20-16 win.

Bryant's missteps in the preseason opener were more glaring than any other player who suited up for the first time with the Steelers at the end of last week.

What also can't be overlooked, with the Steelers in their final week of training camp, is what Bryant potentially brings to a receiving corps that is lacking in size. He is 6-4 and 210 pounds and can run, and that blend allowed Bryant to draw a pass interference penalty on a deep ball in the fourth quarter against the Giants.

"He has the speed you can't coach, the size you can't coach," Steelers wide receivers coach Richard Mann said. "I think he's got a chance to help us, I really do."

And Mann is talking about this season.

Bryant is the wild card of a unit that is defined by youth as much as it is Pro Bowler Antonio Brown's individual brilliance.

The fourth-round pick could make an impact, particularly when the Steelers are near the end zone and his height really becomes an asset. Or Bryant, who is 22 and started only one season at Clemson, could need the NFL's equivalent of a redshirt year, one in which he makes the 53-man roster but rarely dresses for games.

"I think we're going through some growing pains with him but we knew that coming in because the guy hasn't played that much," Mann said. "He (started) one year in college and that's not an alibi but the truth."

Mann's task is staying on Bryant at practice and in meetings to accelerate his development while also staying patient with the player who left Clemson after three seasons to enter the NFL draft.

"What we've got to do is get him honed in, teach him how to do things. He's doing pretty good as far as learning it and having recall. He's just not doing it quite right all of the time," Mann said. "If we just keep on coaching him and spoon feeding him until we can get him to learn it, he does have the talent to be able to help us."

Scott Brown

ESPN Pittsburgh Steelers reporter

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