If you were hoping that Le’Veon Bell might be back with the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 2, an update to the team’s official depth chart seems to indicate the coaching staff doesn’t expect that happen anytime soon. Although Mike Tomlin has often suggested fans shouldn’t read too much into how players are positioned on the depth chart, it’s hard to interpret the removal of Bell’s name from the team sheet on Tuesday as anything but a bad sign.
When the Steelers published their first depth chart of the season, Bell sat atop the list of running backs as the starter. But although there has been no change in his contractual status since then, Bell suddenly is nowhere to be found in the latest version published on the team’s official website, and his name has also been removed from the team’s roster list.
As logical as it might be to exclude him, given he’s not yet signed his franchise tag, the same could have been said last week when he was included in the first draft. Without him, the rest of the running backs move up one place, with James Conner now the listed starter.
With it looking increasingly likely that Bell will holdout well into the season, it should be expected that Conner will remain in the number slot for the foreseeable future. When speaking to the media on Tuesday, Tomlin gave no indication that there had been any communication between the team and their absentee running back. Asked if he had any idea when Bell might arrive, Tomlin had no words of encouragement to offer.
“No I have not and from that perspective, nothing has changed regarding us. We’re preparing to play this week with the guys that are here and working, James [Conner] being central to that. … If and when any of that changes, I’ll let you know. If it does not, my answer will remain the same.”
Perhaps unsettled by Conner’s impressive performance against the Cleveland Browns, it appears Bell tried to cheer himself up with another night out at the club on Monday. A dejected looking “Juice” seemingly finding it impossible to enjoy himself away from football.
With Bell losing more than $855,000 each week that he holds out, it can only be hoped he’s getting a discount from the clubs in Miami for his loyalty as a regular customer these days.