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Bryant has changed, and it shows

It's been over a year since Martavis Bryant stepped onto a football field with his teammates, but when he did so Tuesday at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex for the Steelers' first OTA session, something had changed.

"I am a totally different person compared to how I used to be," said Bryant.

And to be honest, it showed.

Bryant was reinstated by the NFL after serving a year-long suspension for multiple violations of the NFL-NFLPA Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse.

He did his time, seeking counseling, getting treatment, and passing numerous drug tests.

He shed from his life those who were a bad influence, tightened his circle to include those who have his best interest in mind.

"I changed my whole life around compared to how I used to be," said Bryant. "I developed better habits, who I hang around. I am a family man. Me developing my life and getting back on track."

But there was more. There was something else that you could see in Bryant.


This is a guy who can do it all on the field, yet he was nervous going out there for the first time in a while.

"It was more of a nervous type of thing," said Bryant. "It's been a whole year since I have been back here. I am just trying to get my feet back under me and continue to work.

"It feels great to be out here with my brothers. It's been a long year for me. God really blessed me to get back out here. I am just happy to be back."

It's not going to be an easy road for him, though. The reinstatement is on a conditional basis, with counseling required, multiple drug tests a week, and more.

"I have to maintain my sobriety," said Bryant. "I have to stay on the track I am on now. As long as I handle my business I am good."

Bryant, the Steelers fourth-round draft pick in 2014, was suspended in March, 2016 for a year. He was previously suspended for four games in 2015. He knows there is no margin for error. He has to stay clean.

"I know this is my last chance," said Bryant. "I put the right people around me. It's been a year. Maintaining it now is nothing."

Bryant said there are some adjustments he has to make, including getting accustomed to new teammates. But they are adjustments he welcomes with nothing but open arms.

"It's been a whole year," said Bryant, who came into OTAs at 225, adding 10 pounds of muscle to his previous playing weight of 215. "A lot had changed, some of my teammates have changed. The environment has changed. I am just happy to be back. It's a blessing. I am going to continue to work and get everything back.

"When I was here two years ago it was different players. I am just getting back into it, learning my new teammates and how the system works again."

Bryant admits he didn't watch the team last season, somewhat so he could focus on his own recovery, and also because it wasn't easy to watch. He knew what was going on, he just didn't tune in on game day.

"It was a rough time in my life," said Bryant. "As far as me watching the games on Sunday, I stayed away from it. I didn't watch it. Knowing I let myself down and my teammates down, I couldn't bear to watch it. I just stayed away from it.

"I was aware of everything that was going on, but I didn't want to put my attention on it when I had some issues myself."

Bryant said he came into OTAs without any expectations, knowing he would have to regain the trust of his coaches and teammates. He was surprised to get work with the starters, but thankful for the opportunity right off the bat.

"I am just here to be a team player and do what I've got to do to help out the team," said Bryant. "Whatever the coaches need me to do, I am going to do and also help out my teammates.

"I just have to work hard, do whatever the coaches ask me to do, be there for my teammates and be a team player."

More from Martavis:

On adding wide receivers and the competition that brings:"Competition is always great. We drafted JuJu Smith-Schuster. He is a great player and a great team player. He is one of my brothers. So we will all work together and compete."

On the exchange between him and Sammie Coates on Twitter:"It was just a little friendly competition. He is still my brother. We just did it out of the love for each other and to help competition when we got out here."

On earning back the respect and trust from your teammates:
"Everything is earned, not given. All I can do is just take care of my business and do what I have to do off the field. As long as I do that, they will see the change in my ways. As long as I continue to pass my tests, go to my meetings and maintain my sobriety, I will be fine."

On teammates accepting you back:
"They have been pretty good. Everybody is just happy to see me and to know that I am doing well, and doing what I am supposed to do and what is required by the league. Handling my business as a man. They can tell that I changed my ways. I am a family man now. Family is everything. My team is my family as well."

On Ben Roethlisberger saying he was disappointed in you:
"We spoke. He is still like my brother. We haven't had that sit-down talk yet. Eventually we will sit down and catch up. But until then, we are going to continue to work hard on the field."

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