New England Patriots vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: 4 suspended stars

5 of 5

Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

1. Martavis Bryant

News broke on Thursday afternoon that Bryant received a four-game slap on the wrist. Like Blount and Bell, Bryant’s suspension stems from a marijuana charge.

That spells double-trouble for the Steelers’ offense.

Playing alongside Markus Wheaton and Antonio Brown was huge for Bryant as a rookie last season. In the 10 games he appeared in, Wheaton notched 26 receptions for 549 yards and eight touchdowns, making him a nice waiver-wire pickup for fantasy football players with that 31 percent touchdown rate.

To put it in perspective, Bryant was just the second rookie since 1995 to average in excess of 20 yards per reception (Kenny Stills was the other, in 2013).

Bryant held up his end of the bargain in the Patriots’ playoff loss to the Ravens last January, hauling in five passes for 61 yards and a score. Without a doubt, he is a very promising young wideout. He stands tall at 6-foot-4, taller than any other wide receiver on the Steeler’s roster.

The absence of Bryant means that the spotlight is primarily on Wheaton to step-up and be a receiving threat after Antonio Brown. Rookie Sammie Coates will also get more chances to prove himself.

This is good news for a Patriots secondary that is now in that much less danger of getting completed toasted by the Steelers’ aerial attack in Week 1.

Next: NFL power rankings: preseason Week 3