While he hasn’t stressed it as much this year during training camp as he did a year ago, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin still believes the absence of running back Le’Veon Bell from Saint Vincent College in Latrobe will once again have some sort of consequences.
During a Monday morning interview on 93.7 The Fan, Tomlin was asked about Bell being absent from training camp again this year and why he hasn’t been as vocal this second time around about how him not being part of the team’s annual summertime activities at Latrobe.
“I just believe that it’s accepted, and you know that there are,” Tomlin said. “There’s a reason why we come up here and work in this environment and develop individually and collectively. So, when you miss that, there’s consequences. And I just stated the obvious last year because it was our first venture into that realm and I just felt like it needed to be stated. I’ve stated it less so this year because we’ve been there and done that. I hadn’t talked a lot about him because there’s really not a lot to talk about.
“The two most important variables regarding Le’Veon is when he shows up and the level of football conditioning he’s in when he gets here and until you have those two variables, or boxes checked, discussions are moot. So, you know, I’m sure he’s in great shape, he’s in great shape over a 12-month calendar, but football shape is football shape. When he gets here, we’ll see where he is and proceed from there. Until then, I’ll focus my energies and attention on the guys that are working here, as I should.”
To have himself in proper football shape this year when he finally does arrive for the start of the Steelers 2018 regular season, it was recently reported that Bell is training once again with Rischad Whitfield in an attempt to simulate the running backs missed training camp time.
“I’ll do a lot of things that will help Le’Veon with his quickness, agility and coordination”, the “Footwork King” told Jeremy Fowler during an interview for an article on ESPN’s website. “I’ll be fine-tuning his football endurance as well as doing a lot of tempo runs.”
Last year, Bell didn’t have a great start to the season from a statistical standpoint for whatever reason and the obvious hope is that there won’t be a repeat of that this season. If you remember, Bell only played 72% of all offensive snaps in the team’s regular season opener against the Cleveland Browns on his way to registering 32 yards on 10 carries and catching 3 passes for another 15 yards.
Will we once again see Bell limited in this year’s regular season opener against the Browns due to him missing all of training camp and the preseason? We’ll have to wait and see. Regardless, it’s obvious that Tomlin doesn’t believe that Bell can replicate what he would do in training camp outside of Latrobe.
While Tomlin admitted last year during training camp that he was keeping in contact with Bell regularly during the running back’s absence, he admitted Monday morning that he’s had a little less dialogue with him this year while the team is at Latrobe.
“Less so, but probably just because I’ve been focused on the guys that are here and like I said, this isn’t our first venture into this space,” Tomlin said.
While this now marks the second time that Tomlin and the Steelers have had to venture into this “space” with Bell, it’s likely to be the last as the running back will almost assuredly be with another team next year come training camp time unless something totally unforeseen happens.