The Pittsburgh Steelers did not reinstate receiver Martavis Bryant right away. In fact, although Bryant was eligible to be placed on their 53-man roster and active for the San Diego Chargers game on Monday night, the Steelers did not do so. The team waited until Tuesday of this week.
There is plenty of room to speculate as to why the Steelers waited to adjust their roster. Bryant, whose issue was beyond a simple infraction of the substance abuse policy, did take necessary steps to get himself back on track. He went to Florida, away from the team, and put himself into a program. He has publicly talked about how he worked on himself, something head coach Mike Tomlin inferred was needed in several press conferences.
The most likely reason for waiting was to make sure that Bryant understood, not only the level of seriousness the team considers his situation and the position he placed his teammates in, but also to send a message that he will be expected to earn his position on the roster. To earn a spot on the field.
Bryant talked to the media after practice, “I am ready to go. I am going to have a great week of practice and see what happens on Sunday.” He added, “All I can do is focus on how I do in practice…let the coaches decide on that.”
Bryant will be working on chemistry with quarterback Mike Vick, but he may be working on so much more. Chemistry within the locker room, trust among his teammates and coaches is a major factor. Showing a level of maturity and true desire to overcome his issues is likely something the front office expects as well. It goes beyond showing he is ready to return.
I give Bryant credit for handling the situation as well as he has. There have been plenty of players that have come back from suspensions and personal issues with a chip on their shoulder that they were punished too harshly for getting caught with their finger in the proverbial cookie jar. The Steelers played against one on Sunday. He’s tall and scored twice. That Bryant, so far, has remained humble and hasn’t gone to Twitter to tell everyone how unhappy he is speaks volumes to me. He has a teammate that has seen little playing time, was fairly expensive for the team to bring in, that didn’t take the lack of on-field usage very well. Bryant has quietly come back and put his efforts into practice.
I am in favor of making a guy work his way back into a roster. Young players that have had off-field issues have repeated those mistakes in the past, hurting the team in the long run. Being patient and showing that he has matured will benefit Bryant more in the long term. Keeping himself focused on football and being a professional will move him farther in life that resenting not getting a start or immediate reinstatement.
Bryant is a good receiver. I have high hopes that he’ll prove he is a true professional as well.
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