A week ago the Pittsburgh Steelers reported to training camp, and unlike in 2017, there was no one who expected Le’Veon Bell to arrive on that date.
Bell continues his holdout (meaning holding out on signing his franchise tag tender and therefore not being forced into showing up at training camp) and while most players have avoided the question of when Bell will arrive, head coach Mike Tomlin took it head on.
When talking with CBS Sports’ Evan Washburn, Tomlin bluntly stated he wants Bell to not just show up earlier than he did in 2017, but also to show up in better shape.
Check out the clip:
Mike Tomlin on Le'Veon Bell: "I'm hopeful that he'll get to us sooner. I'm hopeful that he'll be in better condition even than he was a year ago." @EvanWashburn checks in on #T2S to bring us the latest from Steelers camp pic.twitter.com/Z2SwVZstqd— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) July 30, 2018
Tomlin did add at the end of his comments how he will be taking a wait-and-see type of approach when it comes to Bell’s pending arrival, and, according to Washburn, Tomlin knows Bell will show up in game shape and be the difference maker the team and fans have enjoyed watching during his time in the Steel City.
For fans who are optimists, the thought of Bell showing up early, maybe when the team breaks camp and heads back to Pittsburgh prior to Week 4 of the preseason, is enticing. This would give him time to get back in sync with the offensive line and not be forced to hit the ground running before the games really count.
For the realists out there, this is a proposition which likely won’t happen. Bell understands his showing up early can only pay dividends if he doesn’t get hurt and produces better than he did in 2017 for the first three games. Nonetheless, Bell is betting on himself, and he likely feels he can show up, as he did a year go, and produce without the risk of injury in meaningless preseason games.
To me, the kicker is how Tomlin likely would be more than understanding of Bell’s position if he were to show up early. In other words, if Bell showed up and said, “Coach, I will run drills, be in all the meetings, get in top shape, but would like to avoid the risk that comes with certain situations.” I’m sure Tomlin would oblige. However, it seems we will never know if this situation would play out or not — even if Tomlin is “hopeful”.