As of today, Sept. 5, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell has yet to report to the team.
As the world turns, Le’Veon Bell has yet to be seen at the Steelers premises. The three-time Pro Bowler and All-Pro have remained adamant about holding out until he gets a contract extension. Last season Bell, signed a tender with the team on Sept. 1 and was with the team in time for the first game of the season. This time, with the Steelers match-up against the Cleveland Browns Sunday getting closer, it looks unlikely Bell will play this week.
In the meantime, what should the Steelers do? It’s already looking as if James Conner, the team’s third-round draft pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, will get the nod to start this Sunday in Bell’s absence.
Head coach Mike Tomlin has already stated he is comfortable with Conner’s readiness:
James — the status and condition and approach of James. Being a rookie who missed a lot of time due to soft tissue injuries and lack of general readiness to a guy who’s done the things that we outlined.
Outside of Conner, the team will have to depend on the veteran leadership of a variety of players on the offensive side of the ball. Of course, Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback with Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster at wide receiver will hold down the outside, while linemen Maurkice Pouncey and Alejandro Villanueva will man the interior. But will the Steelers put James Conner in position to be successful until Bell comes back?
Either way, the Steelers must prepare to move on without their star running back for the time being. Their plan may not exactly work, but it should be enough until Bell returns to the team.