On Sunday, former Clemson standout Martavis Bryant took a step that has him one step closer to getting back on the football field this coming fall. The Steelers’ wide receiver joined the rest of his Pittsburgh teammates in practice for the first time since his year-long suspension by the NFL for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
“It felt great. I got a little rust on me so I just have to get in shape and come in here every day and get better,” Bryant said to the media via Steelers.com.
After not playing football for a year, Bryant and the Steelers were hoping he would have been cleared by the NFL to practice when the team reported to Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa., on July 27. However, Bryant was informed by the league he would not be able to start practice with his team, which was a setback for the former Tiger, but one he accepted.
“I had no control over that so there was nothing I could do so I just came in here with the right mind and attitude and made sure I took care of my business,” Bryant said. “I was hoping I was (cleared), but I didn’t know what to expect so I did what I had to do and everything worked out fine.”
That business included staying sober, taking drug test when he was asked to do so, continue counseling and staying out of trouble. When being asked all the questions by the media in regards to the NFL and what he has to continue to do, the 6-foot-5, 220-pound wide receiver displayed a great attitude and even shared a laugh.
When Bryant was asked, “What do you have to do in order to get cleared to play regular-season games?” He responded by laughing and saying, “Don’t mess up, which is obvious and just continue to do what I’m doing and I will be fine.”
What Bryant has done for the last year, more than anything, he has stayed sober. He has done everything the NFL has asked him to do and he has learned from his mistakes.
On Sunday, his coaches and teammates were glad to see him back out there.
“He looked like Martavis,” Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin said on Steelers.com. “He’s a talented athlete, he’s in good condition, but that’s just an element of it. Knocking the rust off, getting acclimated or re-acclimated to football and the details associated with what is required to win at this level will be a process.
“It will be fun to watch him work through it.”
Bryant got back on the field early and caught some punts from the jugs machine before practice. During practice he lined up in the slot, did some one-on-one work against the defensive backs and later was on the field with the first-team offense during the 11-on-11 period at the end of practice.
“It felt great. It has been a long time,” Bryant said about being back at practice. “I’m just happy to be back out there with my brothers and working hard and getting better as a team and enjoying it and getting ready for the season.”
Going forward, Bryant isn’t going to worry about the NFL’s lingering decision to reinstate him for the regular season. Right now, he just plans to focus on getting in better football shape and rebuilding his relationships and his chemistry with his teammates.
He did report he and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger have spoken and are both on the same page, though he said the conversation was between he and his quarterback.
One thing Bryant did share was how good the competition is at wide receiver and how the Steelers’ talented receiving corps can play a big role in the team’s hopes of making it to the Super Bowl this year.
“We definitely have something special, but we have to put in the work,” he said. “The more work we put in, the better off we will be. Everybody is going to keep working and when Le’Veon (Bell) gets back he will put in the work as well.”
—Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
Have you ordered the 2017 Clemson season preview ‘Best is the Standard’ from the staff that covers Clemson football 365 days a year? Order yours today to make sure you get a copy!