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Ben Roethlisberger: Martavis Bryant has to ‘toughen up’ for playoffs


Ben Roethlisberger insists it comes with the best intentions but his comments regarding the need for Martavis Bryant to “toughen up” for the team during the postseason nevertheless were pretty candid.

The Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback was making an appearance on Pittsburgh’s 93.7 The Fan on Tuesday morning when he pointed out that for the team to beat the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday night, Bryant needs to be much better than he has been of late.

“Not that I’m shying from saying this [to Bryant]. It comes from love,” he said, as transcribed by Pro Football Talk. “He needs to understand that…at this time of year you have to toughen up. You have to make tough plays, you have to make tough catches and you have to find ways to do everything you can to help this team.”

The wide receiver especially needs to improve upon his performance in last Sunday’s win over the Cleveland Browns, when he caught one pass for zero yards, says Roethlisberger, a game that followed a one-catch, six-yard game against the Baltimore Ravens.

Roethlisberger did acknowledge that Bryant was ill last week, which didn’t help. But he feels the wide receiver is the type of player who needs to be challenged to excel.

“Does he want to crumble and wilt and pout and let it bother him?” he asked. “Or does he want to rise up, step up, say ‘I’ll take that challenge’ and does he want to be the best in the world?”

The Steelers offense has for the most part been an explosive juggernaut this season — at least when Roethlisberger was running it — but productivity has stagnated of late, especially in the past two weeks in a stunning loss to the Ravens and the win over the Browns, two games where Bryant also has been a conspicuous non-factor.

“We need a big postseason from Martavis,” he said. “We know defenses will be tuned in to [Antonio Brown] so we need other guys to step up.

“We need Martavis to grow and be tough. We need Steeler tough from him.”