Steelers notebook: Martavis Bryant dresses, stays on sidelines
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant finally put on shoulder pads and stood with his teammates on a football field for the first time since training camp began.
He didn't do much more than observe, however.
After being cleared by the NFL to practice and play in preseason games two days earlier, Bryant was held out of the Steelers' exhibition Friday night against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium.
“It felt great to be back in the stadium,” Bryant said after the Steelers' 20-12 victory.
Bryant was cleared Wednesday about two hours after the Steelers concluded their final practice prior to the preseason opener. He was dressed and on the field for warmups Friday, but coach Mike Tomlin decided against playing Bryant, who has not played since the 2015 season.
“I've got practice to do, and I've got more work to put in,” Bryant said. “As long as I put the work in, when my time comes, I'll take advantage of my opportunities.”
In April, Bryant was conditionally reinstated from his yearlong suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. He was permitted to work out in organized team activities and minicamp, but Bryant was halted from practicing at training camp while the league continued to review his case.
Bryant was allowed to work out individually on a side practice field.
“I had no control over what was going on, so all I had to do was worry about myself and make sure I was handling my business so when (the time) came, I was ready to go,” Bryant said.
At least Bryant was allowed to wear pads Friday night. A week earlier, Bryant took his pads on the team bus for the Friday night practice at Latrobe Memorial Stadium only to be told when he arrived that he had not received permission to practice. A team official put the pads back on the bus, and Bryant headed back to St. Vincent.
Bryant is likely to practice for the first time Sunday when the Steelers return to St. Vincent for the final week of training camp. The NFL will review Bryant's appeal prior to the regular season and decide whether to fully reinstate him.
“I just have to worry about what I'm doing, take care of my business, continue to be on the path that I'm on now, and I'll be fine,” Bryant said.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and wide receiver Antonio Brown were ruled out earlier in the week by Tomlin, and they were joined on the sidelines by about 20 percent of the training camp roster.
Wearing street clothes were three of the team's eight draft picks: cornerback Cameron Sutton (No. 3, lower body), running back James Conner (No. 3b, shoulder) and outside linebacker Keion Adams (No. 7, shoulder). Conner appeared in just one padded practice when he injured his shoulder.
Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (No. 2) left in the first quarter with a possible concussion.
Also sitting out on offense were quarterback Landry Jones, running back Trey Williams, offensive linemen Maurkice Pouncey and Alejandro Villanueva, and wide receivers Justin Hunter and Demarcus Ayers. On defense, linebackers Bud Dupree, Anthony Chickillo, Ryan Shazier and James Harrison did not dress, along with defensive backs Mike Mitchell, Artie Burns, Sean Davis and Senquez Golson.
As healthy players, Roethlisberger and Brown were in uniform but never left the sideline.
Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.