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Martavis Bryant on return: Nothing really changed

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Martavis Bryant played his first football game in 19 months Sunday, when he took the field in the Pittsburgh Steelers' 17-13 win over the Atlanta Falcons.

The Steelers wanted Bryant to knock the rust off early, targeting him on a receiver screen that went for negative three yards. Two drives later Bryant got the ball on a reverse, which he promptly fumbled out of bounds.

That was the bad. Now for the good: Bryant displayed his field-stretching power with a 23-yard snatch on a downfield heave from rookie quarterback Joshua Dobbs. It was the type of play that reminds us the lanky, explosive receiver can be a difference maker when he's on the field.

"I mean, I just got to keep working on my skills," Bryant said after his preseason debut, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "Part of what happened in the game, too much I can't control, so you make the best of what we can do. The game speed is still the same. You just got to adjust and I'll be good.

"I don't feel like anything changed. I just have to get myself and my teammates to get better for the season. I'm just happy after last year to be out there."

Since Bryant entered the NFL in 2014, the Steelers have scored 30 or more points in almost half the games he's played. Sans the big-play receiver, that percentage dips to around 30.

Bryant's return to an offense already loaded with Antonio Brown, Le'Veon Bell and Ben Roethlisberger makes the Steelers the biggest threat to the New England Patriots' dominance in the AFC. The 25-year-old wideout showed Sunday he's lost none of his ability to make plays down field with the ball in the air, which Pittsburgh sorely missed last season.

Bryant is conditionally reinstated to participate in the preseason. He'll have to clear the final hurdles before the regular season starts.

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