— Yesterday, Martavis Bryant won our weekly Jagoff of the Week award TribLIVE Radio in one of the larger landslide victories of the year. We typically keep legal violators off the table (i.e. Aaron Hernandez type situations) to keep the award tongue-in-cheek, but four failed tests in 16 months speaks for itself.
— Bryant’s absence is going to hurt the Steelers worse on offense the first two weeks than missing Maurkice Pouncey and Le’Veon Bell will. DeAngelo Williams looks good, and although backup center Cody Wallace had some struggles in last Saturday’s preseason loss in Buffalo (against the immortal Corbin Bryant), I just have more faith in Wallace being “above the line” than backup receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey. And without Darrelle Revis this year, New England could have been very vulnerable to the on-field talents of Bryant in Week 1.
— Then again, I hear New England’s first-round pick from last year, DT Dominique Easley, has looked really good for the Patriots in preseason, so Wallace could be in for a long day on September 10th.
— Why should you watch the Steelers final preseason game against Carolina? I don’t have much for you. I’m a big Tyler Murphy fan, but Mike Tomlin all but ruled out any reps at quarterback for him. Then again, maybe that’s a good sign for Murphy, who would make the 53-man roster only as a wideout. Remember, Bryant and Bell won’t count towards the 53-man as they are on suspension, so a few temporary spots are opened up. Murphy or his Boston College teammate Shakim Phillips could get one, and perhaps fullback Roosevelt Nix could get the other.
— Speaking of which, if Nix makes the team, Wallace is a better run-blocker, and Heyward-Bey can’t catch, why not just ground-and-pound the Patriots next Thursday? Take the crowd out of the game, and keep (unknown quarterback) off the field. Keep feeding DeAngelo the pill, and maybe he won’t walk out on the team a-la LeGarrette Blount in Week 10.
— Of course, if they ground-and-pound Antonio Brown might walk out.
— Speaking of Brown, I usually swear off anyone on our show mentioning their own fantasy teams, but I’m going to break my own rule. I took Brown with the fourth pick in my fantasy league last week, selecting him over Bell who was also available. I had to think pretty hard during my allotted 90 seconds. How dramatically will Antonio be affected by Bryant’s suspension? For that matter, how about Bell without Pouncey when he does return? Will teams triple team Antonio this year? Will DeAngelo cut into Bell’s carries? In the end, the visions of Antonio Brown busting his ars all thoughout training camp swayed me to take him. Brown may be a diva, but his work ethic is like few I’ve ever seen, and I’m betting on that ethic.
— My co-host Tim Benz doesn’t want to hear Pittsburgh fans complaining about DeflateGate and the way it has kept the Steelers in the dark about which QB to prepare for. Tim’s main point is, every team in the NFL will have the same problem this year as we wait for endless appeals to run their course, so stop whining. That’s true, but the Steelers ARE at a disadvantage. It’s a twist of irony that the Commish has given New England another built-in veil of secrecy every week.
— There’s no secrecy in this: the Steelers defense is a mess right now. One of our emailers is predicting a ‘silk-curtain’ this year, and it’s impossible to argue right now. The team brought in recently-released DT Phil Taylor for a visit yesterday, and although they didn’t sign him due to a medical issue, they certainly need help and they know it. We’ve already seen more dumpster diving for waiver-level talent than we usually do, and expect it to continue over the next week. Or the season.