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Martavis Bryant of Pittsburgh Steelers returns to practice after season-long ban, vows to be ready

LATROBE, Pa. — Martavis Bryant is not yet back to his old, explosive self after his first padded training camp practice in two years. But he vows to be very soon.

Bryant, who’s under conditional NFL reinstatement but was cleared for preseason work last week, said after Sunday’s session that he’s still getting his timing and football conditioning down. Bryant and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger missed on a few potential connections but got a big gain over the middle late in practice.

“I’m working on getting ready — I’ve still got a lot of work to do,” Bryant told reporters. “When the time comes, I’ll be ready to go … It’s been a long time. I’m just happy to be out here with my brothers.”

Both Bryant and the Steelers had expected the playmaker to start training camp with the rest of the team July 28, but the league hadn’t graduated the receiver to preseason work as part of his return from multiple drug violations and suspensions that cost him all of 2016.

Bryant spent the first two weeks of camp attending meetings and catching passes on an auxiliary field during practices. Bryant said he has “no clue” what the holdup was, but but said he has done everything the league has asked of him.

Bryant, who has 15 touchdowns in 21 NFL games, received a warm reception from Steelers fans attending practice at St. Vincent College, but Bryant said if there’s any resentment from fans, he’s not sweating it.

“I’m out here to get better with my teammates and play football — outside of that, I’m not worried about it,” he said.

Bryant is confident the league will clear him for regular-season action, as he plans to “just handle my business, do what I’m supposed to do, maintain my sobriety.”

The Steelers’ quartet of Bryant, Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell (who’s under the franchise tag and hasn’t reported to camp) has spent a total of 21 minutes of game action together since 2015. Injuries and suspensions have affected the group.

Bryant, who said he recently had a “great conversation” with Roethlisberger to clear up any misunderstandings about his time away from the team, is expecting a big return for the big four.

“We’ve definitely got something special,” Bryant said. “The more work we put in, the better off we’ll be … When Le’Veon gets back, we’re going to put him to work as well.”

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