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Labriola On

Tomlin addresses Bryant, Bell situations

LATROBE, Pa. – Alejandro Villanueva signed a four-year contract. Le'Veon Bell didn't report. Neither did Daimion Stafford. Martavis Bryant did, but he cannot participate in practices because he has yet to be fully reinstated by the NFL. Sammie Coates is on the physically unable to perform list because of knee surgery a couple of weeks ago. And so is Canaan Severin because he didn't pass the conditioning test.

Outside of William Gay arriving behind the wheel of a fire truck and Antonio Brown showing up in a chauffer-driven Rolls Royce, the big news of Day 1 of the 2017 version of Steelers training camp was the team's announcement about Bryant.

"Upon his conditional reinstatement in April, Martavis Bryant was made aware it was only the beginning of a process toward a return to being a full contributing member of the Pittsburgh Steelers," said General Manager Kevin Colbert in a statement. "We have been informed by the NFL that Martavis is still in the process of being fully reinstated. Until that time, Martavis will be permitted to take part in off-the-field team activities at training camp, but he will not be permitted to practice or play in any games."

During his traditional camp-opening news conference, Coach Mike Tomlin was asked about Bryant, and he referred to the situation as "procedural."

"The league is in charge of that, and what we're going to continue to do is cooperate fully as we have and wait for them to instruct us on what to do," said Tomlin. "It's not (unexpected). It's something we have to deal with, and we will, and we'll do it in an appropriate way. I knew there was a possibility of it, because there were some conditions based on his reinstatement, and the league has been really consistent in that regard. Martavis and we all have been working extremely hard to adhere to it."

Steelers players arrive at Saint Vincent College, in Latrobe Pennsylvania.

When informed that "someone in Bryant's camp" predicted he would be cleared to return to the field within a week, Tomlin said, "I'm not going to speculate. That decision-making from a timetable standpoint is outside my control, and so I'm going  to let the guys in New York do what they do."

Bell's absence was predicted by many outlets once the July 17 deadline for signing players under the franchise tag passed without the Steelers and Bell getting a deal done, and Tomlin's reaction was typical for an NFL coach in such a situation.

"Obviously, I would like him to be here. He is not," said Tomlin. "I will focus my energies on the guys who are. It's an unfortunate circumstance, one that we'll deal with, one that he'll deal with. I have had good, clean communication with him, but I'll leave the nature of that conversation between us. But rest assured he'll be ready to play football. When he gets here, I do not know. I'll remain focused on the guys who are here and their overall development, and when he gets here, he gets here."

Based on Bell's career to this point, there is little concern about him staying in condition, but that doesn't mean Tomlin viewed the running back's absence as inconsequential.

"He's in shape over the course of a 12-month calendar. Football conditioning is not an issue with him, but rust and overall readiness will be," said Tomlin. "We're a group that values this team-building process and doing it in this setting, so yes, there is value, and yes, there are consequences for not being here. That's the reality of it. (The consequences) are untold as we sit here."

Stafford, a fifth-year pro, was signed by the Steelers before OTAs began to add depth at the safety position. A seventh-round pick by Tennessee out of Nebraska in 2013, Stafford started six games for the Titans in 2016. He had two sacks, two interceptions, and two interceptions during his time in Tennessee. The Steelers placed Stafford on the reserve/did not report list.

"Sammie Coates will be placed on the physically unable to perform list. He had a meniscal procedure a couple of weeks ago. He's recovering from that. He will start on PUP, as will Canaan Severin, another wide receiver, because he did not pass his conditioning test." Tomlin also said that rookie running back James Conner, who missed a portion of the offseason program with a hamstring injury, ran well during the conditioning test, which means he should be a full participant in practices that begin on Friday.

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