Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had a message he wanted to deliver to teammate Martavis Bryant as the Steelers prepare for their AFC Wild Card game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday night.
And so he did it on his weekly radio show on 93.7 The Fan on Tuesday, telling the talented receiver, "You have to get tough and you got to make tough plays and make tough catches."
The message, though, wasn't just over the airwaves. Roethlisberger talked to Bryant, sharing his thoughts one-on-one with him, and the two are on the same page about what it was all about.
"We need him," said Roethlisberger. "I love that guy like a little brother. I just wanted him to know we need him to step up. That was nothing more than a challenge. That's all."
Bryant can be a massive weapon for the offense when his game is on, averaging 20.1 yards per catch with six touchdowns in the first seven games he played this season. Since then the numbers have dropped and he hasn't gotten into the end zone since Week 13 against the Colts.
Roethlisberger expects Bryant to respond to the challenge, and knows that will be a key for the offense this week against a tough Bengals defense.
"Whether it's him going deep, or him working underneath stuff," said Roethlisberger. "That is where he is striving to get better is his route running, underneath routes to beat the deep coverage, catching the ball. He is a special player when the ball gets into his hands as well. A three or four yard can turn into a 70-80 yarder quick because he is that talented."
Bryant isn't the only one the offense will be looking for production from. If Le'Veon Bell isn't able to go because of his ankle injury, running backs Fitzgerald Toussaint and Jordan Todman will play a huge role.
"We've got guys that have stepped up all year," said Roethlisberger. "I don't think it should be any different. Whether it's Todman, Fitz, or Will Johnson, whoever it is at running back the good thing is they have been here all year and have been in the system and know what to do. We expect them to step up and not miss a beat.
"These guys have been here. We don't have to reinvent anything. We're going to just keep doing what we have always done."