Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant finished serving his four game suspension and returned to practice Monday. The way the NFL drug policies are structured, it is almost certain Bryant failed four tests before being suspended. First-time offenders get treatment, not fines and suspensions for violations. Subsequent infractions draw harsher consequences under the most recent collective bargaining agreement (CBA), the agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA.
Mike Tomlin and the Steelers organization have been supportive of Martavis Bryant, who spent time in counseling during his suspension. Bryant wants to put the past behind him and focus on his job -- winning games for the Steelers. He said via the Tribune-Review, "I am confident it won't happen again."
It did seem that he was able to do some important introspection during his suspension. He described his experience, "My issues are behind me, and now I am going to move forward with my career and be a better role model for the kids... I really learned a lot about myself and how to keep myself out of certain situations that will keep me in trouble."
A lot has happened during Bryant's absence. DeAngelo Williams proved himself a formidable running back. Le'Veon Bell returned to the field. Perhaps most relevant to Bryant, Ben Roethlisberger fell to injury. Bryant will need to work with backup quarterback Michael Vick as he begins preparing for the Week 5 game against the Chargers, something Vick is extremely excited about.
"I definitely have to put the ball in his hands and find ways to get him the ball," Vick said. "Martavis looks motivated and he looks strong. He is very impressive right now. That's the way he looked since I got here. I haven't known him too long but getting to know him, he is a great kid and wants to win and he believes in himself."
Vick isn't the only one to welcome Bryant back to practice with open arms. Fellow wide receiver Antonio Brown certainly is excited about having another weapon added to the offense to take double teams and pressure off him throughout games.
"Same old guy, still running by guys and still exciting," receiver Antonio Brown said. "He understands how important it is. Missing football for a month and seeing your teammates on TV and you can't be there is hard."
Ultimately, Bryant realizes the work he has done so far, on and off the field, is just a part of the work needed for the Steelers to succeed. Taking it one game at a time in hopes of eventually bringing another championship back to Pittsburgh.
"We have a lot of work to do this week in practice to get ready for Monday (against the San Diego Chargers)," Bryant said. "We're going to keep developing our chemistry and just make sure we are ready on Monday."