The big news coming out of the 412 area code on Monday wasn’t the team’s most recent depth chart, or their first practice preparing for the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. No, it was who wasn’t there which made headlines.
With Le’Veon Bell missing in action, his teammates, again, were forced to answer questions surrounding the All-Pro running back, and when he might grace the organization with his presence.
While fans have made their stance on the situation very clear, with a large majority boarding the Anti-Bell fan bus, several current and former players spoke about how Bell missing Monday’s workout wasn’t a big deal, and how Wednesday would be viewed as the first ‘official’ practice of the week.
Ultimately, players said all the right things when talking about Bell’s absence, and some went as far to predict Bell will return on Wednesday of this week.
This is a conversation team captain Maurkice Pouncey had with a reporter during player availability Monday:
Reporter: Have you spoken to Le'Veon?— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) September 3, 2018
Maurkice Pouncey: "Yeah we text.. good conversation."
R: He coming soon?
MP: "He has no choice now, right? He missed today. Wednesday, right?"
R: It could be weeks..
MP: "Well, that’s his decision. Trust me, as a team, we are totally fine."
Pouncey would go on to tell Jeremy Fowler of ESPN:
“He’ll be here Wednesday. Count on it.”
Other players were less than thrilled to be talking about it, including starting guard Ramon Foster.
“No sense in talking about it,” he told Fowler. “We’ve got other things to focus on. Cleveland is a good team. Our game plan has to be A-1. And we’re on the road. We’ve got other things to worry about than other guys’ money.”
With many fans wanting the Steelers to rescind Bell’s franchise tag, making him a free agent, it should be noted there is almost zero chance of that happening. The Steelers would receive nothing in return for him and wouldn’t get any production from one of the best running backs in the league.
Those who want him traded should also know this isn’t possible until Bell signs his franchise tag, which hasn’t been done yet. The only moves the Steelers could make, but won’t, are when Bell decides he wants to report to the team and sign his franchise tag tender.
The interesting part of this entire mess, which will die a very quick death once Bell arrives, is the confidence the team has in players like Stevan Ridley, and especially James Conner. Whether they could carry the load in place of Bell is anyone’s guess, but they might just get the opportunity to do so this Sunday in Cleveland if Bell doesn’t show on Wednesday, as many predict.
Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Browns this Sunday.