James Conner appears to be Steelers’ starting RB for Week 1

Steelers begin regular-season prep minus Le'Veon Bell

Steelers begin regular-season prep minus Le'Veon Bell

Bell is yet to sign his $14.54m franchise-tag for this season with him standing to lose money, around $853,000, for every game he misses. Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert wholeheartedly expected Bell to sign a franchise tender and rejoin his 'mates, since he'd broken his pressure tactic under similar circumstances at the beginning of last season. "Coach Tomlin and the coaching staff will continue to focus on preparing the players on our roster for our regular season opener on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns".

The longer Bell delays his arrival - it would cost him $855,000 for each week he misses - the closer the Steelers get to starting second-year player James Conner at running back.

Like everyone else on South Water Street, Ben Roethlisberger was a bit surprised that Le'Veon Bell hasn't reported to the Steelers practice facility and isn't exactly sure when he will.

Bell has not signed his $14.5 million franchise tender and can not play until he does so.

When asked directly about Bell, guard Ramon Foster pivoted to Conner.

"When he gets here, that's when we'll start quantifying Le'Veon Bell-related things", Tomlin said Tuesday.

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"It's fine", center Maurkice Pouncey said.

"Whenever he gets here, we will celebrate with him", Pouncey said.

He can still show up at any point and sign the tag, but he can also, by collective bargaining agreement, skip the first nine weeks of the season, show up for week 10 and still count that as a full year of service.

Bell has not returned to the Steelers this season with yet another contract dispute weighing him down. "I trust James", he said. "We will weigh all of those things at the appropriate time". We are playing a really good Steelers offense, a really good Steelers team.

The report states that even if Bell were to return to practice by Wednesday, Conner, who ran well in the preseason, will get the start at in Cleveland.

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