The 2016 season is unfortunately over, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are now embarking upon their latest offseason journey, heading back to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, formerly known and still referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility of Heinz Field. While the postseason is now behind us, there is plenty left to discuss.
And there are plenty of questions left unanswered as well. The offseason is just really the beginning phase of the answer-seeking process, which is lasts all the way through the Super Bowl for teams fortunate enough to reach that far.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the offseason as they develop, and beyond, looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they try to navigate their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.
Question: Will Le’Veon Bell report to Saint Vincent College today with the rest of his teammates?
Look, I’m sorry, I know that this has been discussed quite a bit ever since the Steelers failed to work out a long-term contract with Le’Veon Bell in advance of the July 17 deadline for doing so, but it quite simply is the obvious question to ask today. Is Le’Veon Bell going to show up on time for training camp?
His teammate and close friend Antonio Brown has in recent days been pleading with him publicly to sign his franchise tag and report on time as the Steelers look to resume their quest to hoist the Lombardi Trophy for the seventh time in franchise history. I’m sure he won’t be the only teammate to reach out to him about showing up, especially if he doesn’t today.
Bell sat out the team’s spring drills between OTAs and minicamp, although he did reportedly show up to the facility at least once during that time. It has to be pointed out that he was recovering from surgery on a groin injury that cut short his 2016 season, bowing out of the team’s AFC Championship game loss to the Patriots.
If Bell is concerned about exposing his body to unnecessary risk during training camp, then I don’t think he needs to worry too much about that, as I would expect that the team would want to limit his touches to as few as possible. I think both parties realize that he doesn’t need a lot of work to be ready for the season.
But the comments from his teammates do reveal that it is obviously important to them that they are all out there together. And Bell’s situation is different from a typical potential holdout because he can’t get a long-term deal done anyway.
The other question, of course, is whether Alejandro Villanueva will show up. He showed up to OTAs despite not signing a contract, but his two years of accrued experience weigh against him, and he has little to gain by trying to hold out.