NFL Football

The boys are back; Steelers' Bryant & Bell OK to play Week 1

(AP Photo/Steven Senne)

PITTSBURGH (AP) Martavis Bryant's long journey back to the NFL is over. So is Le'Veon Bell's extended vacation.

Two of the most dynamic components of the Pittsburgh Steelers' high-powered offense are good to go as the season opener approaches.

The NFL on Friday granted Bryant permission to play when the Steelers travel to Cleveland on Sept. 10, nearly 18 months after he was suspended for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

Bryant was conditionally reinstated in April, though his return hit a snag at the start of training camp when he was forced to sit for the first two weeks of practice due to procedural issues. Bryant caught seven passes for 43 yards during the preseason and is expected to start opposite Antonio Brown for the defending AFC North champions.

The Steelers placed the franchise tag on Bell in February. The two-time Pro Bowler responded by skipping Pittsburgh's offseason program and stayed away during training camp after failing to reach agreement on a long-term deal. Bell tweeted last week that he planned on returning on Sept. 1, and he appeared at the team's facility on Friday, just hours after the Steelers wrapped up the preseason with a victory in Carolina.

Bell passed a team physical and is expected to sign his franchise tender of $12.1 million before the team returns to practice on Monday. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said there would be consequences for Bell's absence, though technically Bell did not hold out because he was not under contract.

The 25-year-old posted extensive videos of his own training program during his sabbatical. On Wednesday, he posted a freestyle rap that hinted he wanted to be paid $17 million per season. The Steelers and Bell cannot reopen negotiations until after the Super Bowl in February.


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Updated September 1, 2017

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