Steelers receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey only had three receptions as a reserve last season, but quarterback Ben Roethlisberger believes he can step up with Martavis Bryant suspended for the first four games of the season.
Roethlisberger, fully aware that Bryant was facing a suspension, put in extra time to build his chemistry with Heyward-Bey, a former first-round pick in Oakland who was largely relegated to special teams last season.
"We've been working with Hey-Bey. He's playing with a lot of confidence, and we have confidence in him," Roethlisberger said per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "He's one of the guys who went down to Georgia with us when we worked out. We built that confidence and trust in each other. I think he'll step up and be just fine."
Asked if third-round pick Sammie Coates might have a larger role in the offense, Roethlisberger again left no doubt about who his No. 3 receiver is. "I think you'll see a big role for Darrius Heyward-Bey."
Heyward-Bey's best season came in 2011, when he caught 64 balls for 975 yards and four touchdowns. Bryant displayed big-play ability in his rookie season with eight touchdowns and 549 yards on just 26 catches.
After a year of chasing down punts, the former seventh overall pick in 2009 can try to show he still is capable of playing receiver at the NFL level.