As has been the theme of the offseason, we were once again fed mixed signals, and this time it wasn’t a conflict between league and media, but rather media and media. A report early in the day false indicated that wide receiver Martavis Bryant would return to the team yesterday, but Jeremy Fowler for ESPN later in the evening confirmed that he did not.
According to Fowler, Bryant has not yet completed what was required of him in order to return to practice with his teammates, at least reading through the tea leaves, because he writes that the wide receiver “has steps to take before rejoining teammates for practices, including securing a local counselor”.
As I wrote last week, Bryant was asked to complete what was previously referred to as a relapse plan, and once that was preliminarily put together, he would be able to engage in practice with his teammates.
It is important to note that it is not required at this time that the league approves his plan, just that he has one, for now. Producing a plan now will allow him to return to practice, but in order to participate in the regular season, the league will have to actually review and approve of said plan. That is the conditional element of his conditional reinstatement.
It’s hard for me to decide really whether or not it is a good or bad thing—if either—that his return was delayed, since it would allow for a greater period of separation between his Twitter incident and the time that he returns to his teammates, and to Sammie Coates, who was among the wide receivers working yesterday.
Many have argued that Bryant’s words were blown out of proportion, and perhaps it was—or at least it will ultimately be resolved—but what it did show at a bare minimum is just how much he wants to return to what he lost for a year, and doesn’t want to lose it again.
It should go without saying that the 2014 fourth-round draft pick has the potential to play a huge role in the Steelers’ season this year, functioning as a complementary number two receiver, or even a ‘1B’, so to speak, in what on paper should be one of the more explosive offenses in the league.
Before we can entertain those visions of such a dynamic offense, of course, first we must see Bryant back in the facility and back with his teammates, working toward a common goal. It was only within the past week that his conditional reinstatement was announced, so perhaps it’s not all that surprising that he has yet to put the finishing touches on completing the conditions he must meet to return.
Yesterday was the beginning of Phase Two of the offseason program, which last for three weeks, after which begin OTAs. Bryant should be able to return at some point between now and then.