Still No Bell as Steelers Prepare for Browns

Pittsburgh Players Unconcerned, Backing Conner

Josh Rowntree
October 22, 2018 - 3:20 pm
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (26) carries the ball against the Houston Texans during the first quarter at NRG Stadium.

Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

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Another Monday, another round of ‘Where’s Le’Veon?’

Le’Veon Bell, the Steelers All-Pro running back, was again missing as the Steelers came off of the bye week and began preparation for Sunday’s game against Cleveland. 

In the offseason, Bell indicated that he would show up at the start of the season, just as he did the previous year when also playing on the franchise tag. When he failed to show up, his teammates — particularly the offensive line — tore into him. 

“We were disappointed that he wasn’t here, but after that, you just move on, man,” DeCastro said Monday, when Bell again did not arrive. “There’s too good of guys, too many guys I respect on the defensive side of the ball, that I’ve got to worry about blocking. I can’t worry about who is behind me. At the end of the day, it’s all kind of noise until he shows up.”

Bell is sacrificing over $850,000 with every week he misses. ESPN reported that Bell would arrive during the bye week so that he could be potentially ready for Sunday’s game. But Bell was not present during the bye week. ESPN then reported that Bell may show up Monday. He did not. 

“In our locker room, we’re not even worried about it,” defensive end Cam Heyward said. “It’s unfair for me to even talk about him. He’ll have to answer his questions where he wants to, but we’re not talking about him right now.”

“If he joins along the way, so be it. It’s not fair to everyone in this locker room and Le’Veon himself for us to keep talking about it.”

“I couldn’t care less, to be honest with you,” guard Ramon Foster added. “I salute him. He stood his ground, that’s what he’s supposed to do. We’ll be happy to get him back. We’ll see how it goes.”

That quote by Foster, who is the team’s NFLPA union representative, is a stark contrast to what he said in the opening week of the season, when he criticized Bell for misleading the team on his intentions. 

“You’ve got to kind of just roll with what’s in front of you,” he said. “Right now, we just had a practice without him. I don’t know, maybe we’ll see him. I haven’t talked to him, no one has. We’re in a wait-and-see situation.”

Center Maurkice Pouncey, who also criticized Bell earlier this year, is taking a lighthearted route with Bell’s absence.

“It doesn’t surprise meal” he said. “I’m enjoying the ride, just like you guys. I want to see how it plays out. It’s pretty cool… Hopefully it’s the best for him.”

Another one of Bell’s blockers, who has remained mostly silent on the matter, is more focused who running back James Conner, who has thrived in Bell’s absence. 

“We can’t really do much about it,” James said. “Whenever (Bell) shows up, he shows up. We just play football and play with who is here.

“(Conner has) been winning games for us. The more we can keep the offense by running the ball with him, attack through the air with Ben [Roethlisberger]. Any time you can stay balanced, it’s going to help the offense put up points.”

Foster has been continually impressed with the improved play of Conner, too. 

“He’s a downhill type of guy,” Foster said. “He doesn’t look like a big guy, but he’s powerful as hell. I salute him for what he’s done. I salute his mentality more than anything. 

“There were a couple times last year when he kind of ran out of bounds a little bit. Coach kind of said something to him, but now he’s fully involved in AFC North ball. He’s been physical, he wants to be successful. So you’ve got to root for the guy.”