Already faced with playing without running back Le’Veon Bell for the first two games of the regular season, the Steelers were dealt another big setback when wide receiver Martavis Bryant was suspended four games for violating the NFL’s drug policy, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has confirmed.
Bryant, a fourth-round draft choice from Clemson in 2014, caught eight touchdowns and averaged 21.1 yards per catch in 10 games last season. He practiced with the team Thursday, which, like Bell, he is allowed to do during the preseason leading up to the start of the regular season Sept. 10 in New England.
He was not, however, available in the locker room after practice, and several of his teammates said they were unaware of the situation.
Bell will miss the first two games – his suspension was reduced from three games on appeal – for being charged with marijuana possession and driving under the influence. The Steelers also will be without All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey, who had surgery for a broken fibula – meaning they will face the defending Super Bowl champions without three of their top offensive players.
Of course, the Patriots will be without quarterback Tom Brady, who is serving a four-game suspension for his role in Deflategate, and running back LeGarrette Blount, who was suspended one game for marijuana possession stemming from his incident last August while riding in the same car with Bell.