- Scott Brown, ESPN Pittsburgh Steelers reporter
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Offensive coordinator Todd Haley said rookie Martavis Bryant is “making progress” but added that special teams are a reason as to why the fourth-round draft has yet to dress for a game this season.
That likely means Darrius Heyward-Bey will continue to dress because the sixth-year veteran plays special teams. Meanwhile, Justin Brown still appears to be ahead of Lance Moore as the primary slot receiver.
Brown had his best game of the season last Sunday, catching all three passes thrown to him for 26 yards in the Steelers’ 17-9 win at Jacksonville. Haley said the 6-foot-3, 209-pounder was an “integral part” of the Steelers’ running game.
“He did a very good job. He was physical and he helped get the runners 3-4 yards multiple times,” Haley said. “I thought he did a real good job in that and made a couple of tough catches when called upon. I thought he played good.”
A couple of notes:
Rookie running back/wide receiver Dri Archer has yet to make an impact in three games -- he missed two contests with a sprained ankle -- as he has just 15 rushing and receiving yards combined and four kickoff returns for 65 yards. The Steelers tried to get Archer the ball several times against the Jaguars, and Haley said the third-round draft pick was close to breaking a big play. Haley said the 5-8, 173-pound Archer’s touches have been limited with Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount ahead of him. “I don’t think he can carry it 25 times per game if he were the feature guy but he is a good runner inside and outside,” Haley said of Archer. "I think he has very good vision. He is putting the ball where it is supposed to go. I haven’t seen any issues there.”
The Cleveland Browns were expected to struggle on offense while All-Pro wide receiver Josh Gordon is suspended but are averaging just under 26 points per game. The Browns are also fourth in the NFL with 143.3 rushing yards per game. The success of the Browns’ offense starts up front, where Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas and Pro Bowl center Alex Mack have been joined by guard Joel Bitonio, who has been one of the top rookies in the NFL. “They’re working good together. They’re cohesive and it’s showing,” Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison said. “They’re averaging something ridiculous rushing. Their zone blocking is very good.” Said Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, “Their line play is excellent, as good as anybody we’ve played.”