Keeping clean biggest battle for Pittsburgh Steelers' Martavis Bryant

By The Sports Xchange  |  May 23, 2017 at 3:38 PM
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PITTSBURGH -- Martavis Bryant says he is a changed man. He had better be, or his final chance at an NFL career won't last long.

Bryant, who missed 27 of a possible 48 games since being drafted in 2014 because of drug suspensions and injuries, took part in the Steelers' first off-season training activity Tuesday after serving a one-year drug suspension.

"I changed my whole life around compared to how I used to be," Bryant said. "Everything is earned, not given," Bryant told a swarm of media just off the practice field as the Steelers completed their first practice of the spring. "All I can do is just take care of my business and do what I have to do off the field. And as long as I do that they will see the change and everything how I changed my ways. As long as I pass my test, go to meetings and maintain my sobriety that will be fine. ... I know it's my last chance."

Bryant missed six games as a rookie as he recovered from a training camp injury. He missed another five games due to his first drug suspension at the beginning of the 2015 season and all last season on his second drug suspension.

The Steelers are hoping Bryant can be more reliable next season because when available he is one of the most dynamic young players in the NFL.

Bryant's specialty is being able to make big plays. He averages 17.4 yards per reception and has scored 14 touchdowns in 21 career games.

If he can stay clean, Bryant's return could mean big things for the Steelers' offense. Without Bryant last season, the Steelers still managed to finish among the top 10 teams in the NFL in scoring, passing and total offense. The addition of Bryant should make the Steelers among the top offenses in the league again.

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin didn't waste any time Tuesday by putting Bryant in with the first-team offense in the first practice of the offseason.

"It's definitely appreciated, but I didn't expect anything," Bryant said. "I'm here just to be a team player, and do what I got to do to help out with the team."

Bryant joins an already accomplished group of receivers. Antonio Brown remains one of the best in the business. Eli Rogers established himself in the slot last season and rookie Juju Smith-Schuster was drafted to provide an over-the-middle presence. Veterans Darrius Heyward-Bey, Justin Hunter, Demarcus Ayers and Cobi Hamilton will vie for the fifth and sixth spots, if they carry that many.

"I'm excited," Roethlisberger said. "We have a lot of guys. It's fun to be able to rotate through guys. I want to throw to each one to see what they can do and develop some chemistry, but I also realize my arm won't last that long so it's a fun problem to have right now, but it's early."

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