Steelers notebook: Bryant shows flashes of big-time potential



When the Steelers selected tall and speedy receiver Martavis Bryant in the fourth round of the NFL draft, they believed he could be a threat in the red zone as a rookie and eventually develop into a player they could use in all situations.

Over the weekend, Bryant flashed his red-zone credentials when he made a one-handed grab for a touchdown Saturday in practice, one of many fine receptions this 6-foot-4, 211-pound speedster from Clemson made the past two days.

The next goal for Bryant is to do it on a consistent basis.

"Obviously he made a few plays, but he's a big guy so we expect him to consistently make big-guy plays," coach Mike Tomlin said. "I'm interested in him developing a complete game."

Bryant, 22, had a knack for catching touchdowns at Clemson. He had 25 in his three-year career, including 13 as a senior.

"I've always been good in the red zone in college," Bryant said. "Coming into the league I know it will take more work and more practice to get better. I'm just going to go out and prepare."

Bryant knows his playing time will be determined by how well he picks up the playbook.

"If they don't trust me I'm not going to play," he said.

Linemen make adjustments

NFL officials visited training camp this week and one of the offseason rules changes has to do with cut blocking. The new rule prohibits players from throwing a cut block on the side or back of a defender's legs. The offensive lineman must place his head across the defender's legs so the defender can see him before throwing the block. Also, offensive linemen are not allowed to roll their body after executing the block in an attempt to stop the defender.

"That's going to be one of the biggest adjustments," left guard Ramon Foster said. "You have to clearly make sure you have your head across because it would [stink] to have a 20-yard run negated by one step."

Center Maurkice Pouncey is all for the new rule. He suffered a season-ending knee injury in the first game of the 2013 regular season because a cut block by teammate and right guard David DeCastro was not executed properly.

"I totally agree," Pouncey said. "After going through this injury, I don't wish this on anyone. If you take a cut block away and it saves a defensive lineman, then I'm all for it."

Quick hits

First-round pick Ryan Shazier limped off the field after making a tackle on Le'Veon Bell near the end of practice. Trainers wrapped his right knee in ice, but Tomlin said the injury was not serious. "A little boo boo," he said. ... Tomlin had no update on when punter Adam Podlesh will come to camp. Podlesh has missed the first eight practices because his wife is expecting. ... Backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski led the first-team offense because Ben Roethlisberger had the day off. ... Nose tackle Steve McLendon had a second consecutive day off. ... The Steelers practice today and then have Tuesday off, their first off day in a week.

Ray Fittipaldo: rfittipaldo@post-gazette.com and Twitter @rayfitt1.


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