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Steelers News: Martavis Bryant is back and it feels so good

The Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver has been fully reinstated by the NFL, and the young man, along with fans, can finally breathe a sigh of relief.

Atlanta Falcons v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

For Martavis Bryant and Steelers fans everywhere, it likely felt as though a dark cloud hung over their heads during the past few weeks. Bryant had been “conditionally reinstated” by the NFL, but was barred from practicing with teammates at training camp. Instead, he worked out on a side field.

Then the NFL gave him approval to practice and play, but he still wasn’t fully reinstated. It seemed as if Bryant, the Steelers and the NFLPA were all scratching their heads wondering what it would take to get Bryant 100-percent back on the team.

Amid the chaos which was last week’s transaction wire, Bryant was fully reinstated by the team. Once Le’Veon Bell signs his franchise tag, the Steelers’ offense will finally be reunited. At last, the dynamic Black-and-gold offense will be at full strength.

Ten days before the start of the regular season, any doubt about whether Martavis Bryant can play for the Steelers was eliminated.

Bryant is now eligible to practice and play for the Steelers, his final hurdle as he returns from his year-long suspension for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy.

The league released this statement on Friday afternoon: “Martavis Bryant of the Pittsburgh Steelers has been cleared for regular season practices and games, the NFL announced today.”

Bryant sat out last season and, while he was conditionally reinstated in the spring and took part in the Steelers' summer practices, he was banned from participating in training camp practices and preseason games until the NFL gave its blessing. That came two weeks into camp, which was too late for him to play in the Steelers' preseason opener.

Bryant played in each of the Steelers' final three preseason games.

Bryant had 76 catches for 1,314 yards and 15 total touchdowns in 21 regular-season games during the 2014 and 2015 seasons. He’ll begin this season as the Steelers' No. 2 receiver opposite All-Pro Antonio Brown.

The Steelers search to find a capable replacement for tight end Heath Miller is in Phase Two with the recent trade for Vance McDonald. They hope this move works out better than what happened on their first attempt with Ladarius Green.

McDonald, acquired Tuesday for a 2018 fourth-round draft choice, had nearly as many catches (64) in four seasons with the San Francisco 49ers as Green did in four previous seasons with the San Diego Chargers (78). But he’s not the long, down-the-field type of tight end who looks more like a big wide receiver.

McDonald is a thick 6-foot-5, 267-pounder who’s all tight end — square-jawed, chiseled arms, big hands. And he’s a more complete tight end than Green — more like a Heath Miller type — because he can block as well as he runs.

Hopefully, he can get onto the field more than Green, whose career with the Steelers consisted of only six games and 18 catches because of recurring problems with concussion symptoms.

“We’re here to win a championship, that’s all I’ve heard,” McDonald said. “We’ll do whatever it takes.”

McDonald played 15 snaps in the preseason finale Thursday night in Carolina, but he was never targeted by a pass. He did a lot of that in pregame warm-ups with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger — running underneath routes and showing a natural ease catching the ball in stride. Curiously, he wasn’t known in San Francisco for having dependable hands.

Roethlisberger said it’s too early to evaluate his new tight end — “I threw with him before the game, that’s all I know,” he said — but added he’s “excited” to start working with him when the Steelers resume practice on Monday in preparation for the season opener Sept. 10 in Cleveland.

After not showing up for the entire preseason, Le'Veon Bell returned to the Steelers' facility on Friday -- just like he said he would a week ago.

The running back posted videos on Snapchat while undergoing a physical at Rooney Sports Complex, but it was unclear as to whether or not he specifically signed his $12.1 million franchise tag tender while at the facility.

Bell did pass his physical and is expected to take part in the Steelers' first practice on Monday leading up to their Week 1 game in Cleveland.