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Steelers notebook: Tomlin mum on Bryant suspension

Tribune-Review
| Saturday, August 29, 2015 10:15 p.m
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Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Steelers kicker Garrett Hartley sits on the bench after hurting his leg against the Bills on Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015, at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y.

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – Martavis Bryant is facing a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, but nobody is talking about it yet.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin declined to comment on Bryant’s possible suspension following the Steelers 43-19 preseason loss to Buffalo because “there are still a lot of those elements still unresolved. I will address it when we get a totality of it.”

Bryant, who played the first half and finished with three catches for 138 yards and a touchdown, would not specifically address the suspension either. Bryant said he didn’t know anything about appealing the ruling either.

“Honestly guys, it hasn’t been officially ruled yet so at the appropriate time when they come to a final decision, I’ll comment on it,” Bryant said. “I am just focused on the team and working hard at practice to get better.”

With Bryant facing a suspension now indicates he had a prior positive test. Under the substance abuse provisions, a player does not get to a four-game suspension until his first positive test or offense after being moved to what is called to Stage II of the program.

The NFL’s substance abuse policy is different from the policy on performance enhancing drugs. NFL players are tested for recreational drugs once a year, during a window mandated by the collectively bargained substance abuse policy between April 20 and early during the preseason.

Bryant, a fourth-round pick out of Clemson, has been in the league only 16 months.

Teammate Le’Veon Bell, suspended for the first two games for marijuana possession and DUI, said he has talked to Bryant about what he needs to do.

“He is going to have to overcome it the same way I have to,” Bell said. “Do your time and get back on the field.”

Hurting kicker

Garrett Hartley injured his right hamstring during a kickoff in the first quarter and did not return, leaving his roster spot for the opener in jeopardy.

Hartley was signed two weeks ago after the Steelers lost Shaun Suisham to a torn ACL that he suffered while attempting to make a tackle during the Hall of Fame game.

“It didn’t look good,” Tomlin said of Hartley. “We have to MRI him but it didn’t look positive in terms of the opener.”

After beating out Jay Feely and Alex Henery in a tryout at Heinz Field, Hartley has been 4 for 4 in field goals since joining the Steelers. He made kicks of 29, 46 and 48 yards along with a 28-yarder against the Bills before he got injured.

Dupree banged up

Linebacker Bud Dupree left the game in the second half with an apparent foot injury. The team’s No. 1 draft pick, coming off a solid game against Green Bay on Sunday, had only one tackle.

“He had a sore foot, so we got him out of the game,” Tomlin said. “I don’t know if it’s of any significance.”

Punter to kicker

Punter Jordan Berry, locked in a roster battle with incumbent Brad Wing, had to take over kickoff duties when Hartley left the game.

Berry had been a holder at Eastern Kentucky but had never kicked off until Saturday. Berry wasn’t stressed much, in part, because Buffalo was assessed a penalty that enabled him to kick off from the 50-yard line. He booted the ball through the end zone.

“I got a little bit better contact (on the second one), and it landed right about the goal line,” said Berry, who averaged 58.3 yards on four punts, including a 78-yarder. “I’ll have to take a look at the hang time to see where that stacks up so I can do that properly.”

Walking wounded

Center Maurkice Pouncey, defensive end Stephon Tuitt, linebacker Lawrence Timmons, wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey and safety Mike Mitchell did not dress for the Steelers. In the starting lineup, rookie L.T. Walton replaced Tuitt; Vince Williams replaced Timmons and Will Allen replaced Mitchell.

For the Bills, 12 players didn’t dress including four starters. Fred Jackson got the nod for the injured LeSean McCoy at running back; Andre Davis for wide receiver Sammy Watkins; Marquise Goodwin for wide receiver Percy Harvin; and Ronald Darby for cornerback Leodis McKelvin.

Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at mkaboly@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib.

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