• 63°

Tomlin: Bryant’s taking issues public ‘out of bounds’

By Will Graves

AP Sports Writer

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Mike Tomlin has a message for wide receiver Martavis Bryant: get comfortable.

The Pittsburgh Steelers coach stressed Tuesday that Bryant is “not available via trade” following a social media outburst late Sunday in which Bryant expressed frustration about his role in the offense and hinted he wants to go to a team where he can get more playing time.

“It’s irrelevant whether his gripe is legitimate,” Tomlin said. “It’s whether it’s appropriate.”

Bryant initially called out rookie teammate JuJu Smith-Schuster while commenting on an Instagram post that claimed Bryant was being ignored by Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Bryant later deleted the post, replacing it with one in which he called Smith-Schuster a “great talent” then adding “I just wants mine period point-blank.”

Smith-Schuster brushed off the criticism on Monday, but Tomlin chastised Bryant for publicly airing issues he believes should be kept in-house.

“He was out of bounds in some of his actions in terms of the things he said on social media,” Tomlin said.

Bryant ran once for 2 yards and caught one pass for 3 yards in a 29-14 win over Cincinnati last Sunday, the second-lowest yardage total of his career. Seven games into his return after missing all of the 2016 season because of a drug suspension, Bryant is tied for third on the team with 18 receptions. He’s also third in targets, though his 13.0 yards per catch is well below the 17.3 yards per reception he averaged while becoming one of the NFL’s most potent deep threats in 2014 and 2015, when he scored 14 touchdowns in 21 games.

Tomlin and Bryant’s teammates have praised Bryant for his discipline and hard work since being conditionally reinstated in the spring.

The 25-year-old has successfully navigated the difficult path back to the league, taking all the necessary off-the-field steps required to clear the numerous hurdles the league puts in place for repeat offenders of the substance abuse policy.

“We’ve invested a lot, we’ve covered a lot of ground,” Tomlin said. “It’s obvious we’ve still got more ground to cover with him because we’re still having a conversation that’s not football-related.

“He’s done a lot in the period of time he’s been here in terms of improving, not only as a player but as a man. But we’ve still got a ways to go.”

Tomlin plans to speak to Bryant in person on Wednesday. Bryant was not at the facility on Monday after calling in sick.

While Tomlin declined to get into the specifics of what he wants to go over with Bryant, he is becoming increasingly frustrated by having to continually address Bryant’s status.

Last week, it was dealing with the fallout from a trade request Bryant’s team made earlier in the season. This week it’s talking about how to rein in Bryant.

Bryant has little leverage to force the Steelers to ship him somewhere before next Tuesday’s trade deadline.

He’s one slip away from a considerably lengthier ban that could end his career and his production this season is well off the eye-popping numbers he put up regularly while helping Pittsburgh to the playoffs during his first two seasons in the league.

Bryant also remains under contract through 2018. And despite his misgivings about the current state of the offense, the Steelers remain adamant he can be an impact player so long as he does his job, remains patient and focuses on the things that have helped him get his career back in order.

“He’s a good guy to work with in the building and has been,” Tomlin said. “We’ve been very clear about this process about getting reacclimated to us. Not an easy one but he’s worked diligently, I like his approach. But he says some things when he’s not around us that are somewhat of a distraction. And I say somewhat because we’re having to field questions regarding him, not because it’s high on my damn agenda.”

Tomlin hasn’t seen any evidence of Bryant going through the motions or pouting on the field during games.

All of which makes his decision to vent his concerns in an open forum all the more jarring, particularly after the first-place Steelers (5-2) put together convincing wins over Kansas City and Cincinnati to move past a shaky start.

The Steelers could make Bryant inactive to prove a point, though it seems unlikely. Smith-Schuster reported concussion-like symptoms late in the victory over the Bengals and is in the protocol.

His availability for a trip to Detroit is uncertain, meaning Bryant could see an uptick in playing time and opportunities.

Despite the headaches, Tomlin remains a believer.

“He had a great week last week of practice,” Tomlin said. “Usually when it happens, only a matter of time before it shows up on the field.”

___

More AP NFL: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

Comments

News

Catawba College hosts three in-person commencement ceremonies

Local

With high case loads causing numerous staff departures, Child Protective Services seeks more positions

Education

Livingstone College graduates celebrate ‘crossing the finish line’ during commencement celebration

Coronavirus

Rowan sees 4 new COVID-19 deaths as mask mandate lifted, vaccines administered continue decline

Local

Spencer is latest town updating its development ordinance

Local

Salisbury native Kristy Woodson Harvey makes NY Times bestseller list

Local

Board of Commissioners will convene for third time in May

Local

Cheerleading team competes at Disney

Business

Biz Roundup: Salisbury, Kannapolis among recipients of Region of Excellence Awards

Education

Salisbury High to celebrate football, swimming champions with parade

High School

High school girls soccer: Isley, Webb lead all-county team

Local

Spencer awarded $10,000 to develop trails at Stanback Forest

Books

‘Tails and Tales’ coming to library this summer

Local

Public Records: March Deeds

Entertainment

Salisbury Symphony’s ‘Return to the Concert Hall’ available May 24-31

Coronavirus

Salisbury teen becomes one of first in age group to receive COVID-19 vaccine

Business

Local farm and creamery poised to add goat yoga, artisan goat cheese to offerings

Local

Pandemic’s impact, uncertainty of transit funding prompt request to eliminate Rowan Express service

Lifestyle

New Waterworks’ exhibit opens June 1

High School

High school football: Walsh accepts the South football challenge

Lifestyle

Price of Freedom Museum gets donated landscape project

Lifestyle

Rowan Museum will have Upscale Yard Sale Saturday

Business

Seventh dragon boat festival set for July 24; deadline for sponsorships is May 28

Nation/World

‘Shocking and horrifying’: Israel destroys AP office in Gaza