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Steelers News: The best is yet to come for Martavis Bryant

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The Pittsburgh Steelers are still looking for big contributions by their big wide receiver, and the best might be coming soon.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Martavis Bryant insists his drug-related, off-field problems are “all behind me.”

As for the conditioning associated with playing football? “I'm back into it.”

Bryant also swears he's a much better receiver than he was when he was a raw rookie back in 2014.

So why hasn't the production been there so far this season?

“As far as the explosion plays, we haven't hit them like we used to,” Bryant said before Wednesday's practice. “But it's still a long season, and you've still got to keep working. In due time, it will come.”

Through four games this season, Bryant has 10 catches for 183 yards and one touchdown.

Not bad — but rather pedestrian compared to what was expected out of the dynamic 25-year-old.

To put Bryant's 2017 statistics through four games into perspective, in December 2015, Bryant had a single game in which he had 10 catches, and a month earlier he had a game where he racked up almost as many yards as he has so far this season (178 in a win against Cleveland).

He also has had five games (including playoffs) in his career in which he scored two touchdowns.

But so far this season, Bryant hasn’t eclipsed three receptions per game. He has scored in only one and he’s had more than 48 receiving yards just once.

For his part, Bryant is unconcerned this trend will continue.

“Sometimes you have your misses, and sometimes you make them,” he said. “So you’ve just got to continue to work at it. What it comes down to is we’re going to hit them sooner or later.”

The narrative surrounding Bryant's slow start could easily be flipped, if only for a few inches here and there. During each of the past three games, there was a play that, if added to Bryant's stat line, could have dramatically altered his season’s production:

• Three weeks ago at Heinz Field against Minnesota, Bryant drew a 49-yard pass interference penalty

• On the first snap from scrimmage from the Steelers’ 25-yard line on Sept. 24 in Chicago, Bryant was targeted 40 yards downfield by Ben Roethlisberger and had nearly a 5-yard cushion beyond Bears cornerback Marcus Cooper Sr.

• On Sunday in Baltimore, Roethlisberger overthrew an open Bryant for what would have been an easy 41-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter

If those three plays are completed, Bryant's season stats look more—well—Bryant-like: 13 catches for 348 yards and three touchdowns in four games.

This would compare more favorably to the 4-game starts Bryant had in his other two NFL seasons.

Steelers star wide receiver Antonio Brown has teamed with Wayde King and Brett Raymer of Animal Planet's "Tanked" to create a 15-foot-long fish tank in his home.

King and Raymer are co-owners of Las Vegas-based Acrylic Tank Manufacturing, which builds enormous and elaborate tanks and aquariums for celebrities, hotels and casinos, businesses and homeowners across the country.

Brown will featured on the season premiere of "Tanked" at 9 p.m. on October 6. Brown's aquarium holds more than 650 gallons of water and it’s filled with emperor fish, clown trigger fish, and snowflake eel.

As a 14-year veteran and 9-time team captain, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said it was his responsibility to speak up about wide receiver Antonio Brown's sideline antics on Sunday.

Roethlisberger doesn't regret calling the Gatorade cooler-flipping incident a “distraction” and saying he was “disappointed” in Brown's behavior.

“I like to think as a leader of this team, it's kind of my job,” Roethlisberger said on Wednesday. “You have to be able to talk to people, and you have to be able to communicate in different ways. I've been doing this a long time, and so I feel that as a captain that's one of the roles of being a captain.”

In this instance, Roethlisberger publicly discussed Brown's sideline meltdown on Tuesday in his weekly 93.7 FM radio segment.

Roethlisberger didn't say on Wednesday whether he had talked to Brown in private, but he's confident the message was received.

“I'm sure,” he said. “He's professional.”

Brown issued an apology on his Twitter account Tuesday afternoon for “all the noise and the distractions” he created with his sideline meltdown.

Cam Heyward, the Steelers defensive captain, said that was a sufficient response.

“Nothing more to say,” Heyward said. “He got mad for one play. So what? He's not Bob Knight. He's not throwing a chair on the court and cursing out everybody. It's sports. You're supposed to be competitors. You're supposed to be mad sometimes.”

Brown was upset when he wasn't targeted on a 3rd-and-4 play in the second quarter of Sunday's 26-9 victory over the Baltimore Ravens. Upon returning to the sideline, Brown flipped over a Gatorade cooler and then brushed past offensive coordinator Todd Haley.

Roethlisberger was asked whether it's difficult to keep Brown, running back Le'Veon Bell and No. 2 receiver Martavis Bryant happy while simultaneously looking at the bigger picture.

“You have to be able to go out and win football games,” he said. “That is our first priority.”

Bryant said he would never display such open frustration but understood Brown's frustration.

“It's probably been building up for weeks,” he said. “We always have his back no matter how he reacts or what he does. I told him to stay focused and stay with it.”

As far as Roethlisberger is concerned, the matter is closed.

Heading into Week 5, the Steelers' defense is ranked second in yards allowed per game, points allowed per game, sacks and passing yards allowed per game. To put that into perspective, consider that, in 2016, the only one of those categories where they finished within the NFL's top-10 was sacks, where they placed ninth with 38.

The defense's significant improvement has resulted from a combination of the infusion of talented youth into the defense and the maturation of those players in Keith Butler's system.

Now the Steelers are starting to see each of those players maturing, not only into their roles, but with respect to how each of their roles interchanges and works together in the various schemes that Butler calls.

We take a look at how that worked in the Steelers' favor in their 26-9 victory over the Ravens on Sunday: