2018 South Side Questions: Is Bell Really Coming, And When Will He Play?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are out of Latrobe and back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the regular season, where everything is magnified and, you know, actually counts. The team is working through the highs and lows and dramas that go through a typical Steelers season.

How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.

Question: Is Le’Veon Bell really showing up, and if so, when will he play?

As I’m sure you’ve seen by now, running back Le’Veon Bell bid farewell to Miami on his social media accounts yesterday. The public posts have left pretty much everybody under the assumption that he’s implying he is on his way to Pittsburgh—though he may stop home in Ohio first.

The Steelers play their next game in just two days, and he surely will not be playing against the Panthers, but it’s obviously reasonable to assumy that he could possibly play the week after. Bell has only a week from today to report before he loses his eligibility to play this season.

While everybody has been tired of talking about it at this point, with his teammates so left in the dark that they have wondered what kind of shape he might even be in, the bottom line is that we are, one way or the other, at the end of the road. Either he’s here by a week from now or he’s not, and that will be that.

Assuming that he does show up, how soon would he actually play? last season, he only needed one week of practice before he was used as their starting running back, but would that still be the case with the added two months’ worth of layoff?

And on a more practical level, the Steelers already have a starting running back who has a different running style that the offensive line is accustomed to, and who has rushed for over 100 yards in four straight games, as well as five out of eight games so far (the most in the league).

Getting Bell on the field will be a delicate balance and might not even happen immediately once he reports. When he decided not to show up, he surely didn’t think James Conner would perform at a Pro Bowl level and that he would just walk back into the lineup, but that simply isn’t going to happen now.

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