Martavis Bryant has been suspended for the first four games of the 2015 NFL season after violating the league's substance abuse policy. After an appeal, the suspension was upheld. Now Bryant's first game of the season will be a Monday Night Football showdown against the San Diego Chargers in Week 5.
No details about the nature of the violation have surfaced yet. Bryant, who is entering just his second season in the NFL, had thus far stayed out of trouble during his young career.
"We are disappointed in Martavis’ actions that has led to his four-game suspension," Steelers GM Kevin Colbert said in a statement. "It is a disappointment to our entire organization as well as our fans, but we will continue to support Martavis during his suspension. It is very unfortunate his actions have put our team in this situation to begin the year, but we are confident he will learn from his mistake and return in excellent shape in Week 5."
Bryant was a revelation for the Steelers as a rookie after being selected in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. After missing the first six games of the season due to his performance and mild injury concerns, he stepped up in Week 7 and caught a 35-yard touchdown pass against the Houston Texans on his first career reception.
In total, Bryant scored six touchdowns during the first four games of his career. He finished the season with 26 catches for 549 yards and eight touchdowns in 10 games played, establishing himself as perhaps one of the league's best deep threats at 21.1 yards per reception. He also caught a TD in Pittsburgh's playoff loss to the Ravens.
Though Bryant's absence is a blow to the Steelers' offense, few teams are as deep at wide receiver. Antonio Brown could see more targets as Pittsburgh's do-everything No. 1, and Markus Wheaton, Darrius Heyward-Bey and rookie Sammie Coates all have the speed to replicate Bryant's knack for downfield plays.
The Steelers are also expected to miss running back Le'Veon Bell, who is suspended for the first two games of the season because of a DUI arrest in Aug. 2014. The Steelers open the season against the Patriots on Thursday, Sept. 10, before hosting the 49ers at home in Week 2.
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