Big Ben tells Bryant to ‘toughen up’

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has urged wide receiver Martavis Bryant to 'toughen up' ahead of Saturday's AFC wild-card game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Bryant's performances have dipped of late after a lightning start to the season with 48 catches for 759 yards and seven touchdowns in his first nine games. A stark contrast to the two catches for six yards in his last two games of the regular season.

As a result, 'Big Ben' has called on his wide receiver to improve as the Steelers begin their quest in winning a seventh Super Bowl crown.

"Not that I'm shying from saying this (to Bryant). It comes from love," Roethlisberger said to KDKA-FM.

"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.

Roethlisberger conceded Bryant has been suffering from a minor setback in recent weeks, but will not use that as a excuse to not push one of his primary targets to be one of the best players in the NFL.

"He was sick last week and that got him behind a little bit," he admitted.

"But I love to challenge him. We all do. The sky is the limit for him. I want to challenge him to be the best in the world, and it's really up to him with what he wants to do with that challenge.

"Does he want to crumble and wilt and pout and let it bother him? 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?"