Steelers players not fretting Bell's absence

Virginia Santiago
September 5, 2018

Maybe it'll be in time for the Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro running back to be ready for Sunday's season opener at Cleveland.

Bell has missed the past two training camps due to rocky franchise tag negotiations and skipped Monday's practice, prompting general manager Kevin Colbert to issue a statement that the team was "disappointed".

"As I've told you throughout this process, when he gets here, that's when we'll start quantifying all Le'Veon Bell-related things", said Tomlin. Bell is set to play on the franchise tag yet again and will be paid $14.5 million for the season - if he signs.

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"Coach Mike Tomlin and the coaching staff will continue to focus on preparing players on our roster for our regular season on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns". This year, however, Bell didn't report on Labor Day to sign his tender, which makes his availability for the opener, and also his readiness for it, an unknown.

Bell's 47 total yards in last year's opener against Cleveland was a career-low, while Conner logged 11 yards on four carries. "We put him in the backseat, strap him in and be ready to go".

Last year, Conner rushed for 144 yards on 32 carries before a Week 15 knee injury ended his season. "We spent a lot of time talking about the growth and development of James Conner, and appropriately so".

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Addressing injuries, Tomlin expects every player on the 53-man roster to be at least a partial participant Wednesday, including tight end Vance McDonald, who has missed more than a month because of a foot injury.

Knowing that the Steelers could potentially look to give him the same workload - especially given how much of the load he was already carrying for the offense - Bell could simply be looking to avoid a similar fate here. "It's fine. He showed up past year at the same time".

The idea that Bell's absence would be a distraction was resoundingly dismissed by Pittsburgh players.

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Browns WR Jarvis Landry - Landry has made plenty of headlines for his role on HBO's "Hard Knocks", but the Browns will need him to back up his talk on the field. I'll know more (about McDonald) once he participates in practice (Wednesday).

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