Steelers Martavis Bryant Injury Gives Heyward-Bey Another Chance


Aug 28, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey (85) has a pass broken up by Carolina Panthers cornerback James Dockery (31) during the second half at Heinz Field. The Panthers won the game, 10-0. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

The final preseason game is over and done with for the Pittsburgh Steelers.  And of course, the next thing to focus on is the final 22 cuts for the Steelers, so they can get the roster down to 53 players.  Everyone is filling out their projected rosters, and one position that is not quite sealed is at wide receiver.

The Steelers, prior to Thursday night’s contest against the Panthers, were going into the weekend with some tough decisions of which receivers to cut.  The Steelers would need to make a decision of keeping five or six receivers, and most compasses were pointing the direction of keeping only five for the season.  Who’s in contention?

Antonio Brown

Markus Wheaton

Lance Moore

Martavis Bryant

Darrius Heyward-Bey

Justin Brown

Prior to Thursday evening, it was of the opinion that Heyward-Bey was on the outside looking in of this group.  The Steelers took a hit to this roster on Thursday when Martavis Bryant was pulled out of the game with what turned out to be a separated shoulder.  He’s expected to miss significant time.

The Steelers have options here.  They can place Bryant on temporary injured reserve in which he can being practicing in six weeks and play in eight if cleared by doctors before then.  During that recovery time, the Steelers can still carry five active receivers.  That leaves Heyward-Bey as the fifth option while Bryant heals.

This breathes life into Heyward-Bey’s quickly dimming light in the NFL.  Contrary to my colleague Justin, who believes that DHB has done enough to get a spot outright (and not by default through injury), I think he was looking on the outside and about to be handed his walking papers.  The six year vet has struggled too much despite having better performances over his last two preseason games.  His inconsistency is a liability in the passing game, and I don’t see them releasing Brown and/or Bryant (young men who have high ceilings yet to be attained in their young careers).

If the Steelers place Bryant on the IR (which the will), DHB has six to eight weeks to put a final authoritative stamp on his case to remain on the Steelers roster deep into the season.  If he can’t take advantage of that situation, he’s certainly done as a Steeler, and maybe for his NFL career completely.