If you believe the reports about Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell that have been circulating the last 24 hours, then you believe he’ll finally report and sign his franchise tag tender sometime around the team’s bye week. On the heels of that story about Bell by Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com, that also includes several quotes from the running back, surfacing, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was asked during his Tuesday press conference if he’s heard from the player and specifically his plans to report to the team during the bye week.
“I have not talked to Le’Veon and I really have no Le’Veon update,” Tomlin said. “Like I’ve said repeatedly, it’s the best approach for us is to stay focused on the guys that are here and working and cross that bridge when we come to it. Nothing’s changed from my perspective in that regard.”
Tomlin has had this same kind of answer to all questions about Bell ever since the running back chose not to report ahead of the team’s Week 1 game after once again bypassing training camp and the preseason.
In addition to Tomlin being asked on Tuesday about Bell, so was Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger during his Tuesday morning interview on 93.7 The Fan. Roethlisberger was first asked for his reaction to the report on Monday that Bell will be reporting to the team around the bye week.
“I know I’ve heard lots of reports and lots of stories for the last few months,” Roethlisberger first said. “I’ll be excited if and when he shows up, you know.”
Roethlisberger was then asked if he’s recently heard from Bell.
“I have not, I haven’t heard from him, the Steelers quarterback said.
Roethlisberger was then asked if it’s his current hope that the Steelers decide against trading Bell in lieu of letting him return and finish out the season with the team as their staring running back.
“Yeah, he’s been a teammate of ours and a really good football player,” Roethlisberger said of Bell. “So, I hope he comes in and can help us. Right now, we can take some help. But, you know, I think the key is, if and when he gets here, I’m sure he’s not gonna be ready-to-go football shape, getting the ball 30 times a game.
“But we don’t necessarily need that. James [Conner] has been doing a great job and doing some really good things for us. I know people are probably scratching their heads when I say that James has been doing good because he hasn’t got a lot of rushing yards, but what we’ve asked him to do in picking up blitzes, pass protecting, catching the ball out the backfield, it’s been awesome.”
Tomlin also said Tuesday that despite John Conner’s stats not being great since the team’s Week 1 tie against the Cleveland Browns, he’s still very happy with everything the young running back has done so far this season.
“James Conner has been really solid both with the ball in his hands and without,” Tomlin said Tuesday.
So, can we assume Roethlisberger and the rest of the Steelers will welcome Bell back to the team with open arms should he indeed decide to report a few weeks from now like it sounds like he’s planning on doing?
“Yeah, if he can come back and help us and be ready to go, then we’ll be ready to welcome him back,” Roethlisberger said. “So, there was a lot of things that were said earlier in the year, but that’s kind of in the past. Now we’ve moved on and hopefully he’s moving on in the sense of getting back and ready to be with us.”