When running back Le’Veon Bell made the decision not to report at the beginning of the season for the Pittsburgh Steelers, I assume that he knew what it might mean for his relationship with his teammates and with the organization. It was a decision that he made with an eye toward the long-term prospects of his career, whether it pays or not.
As we all know by now, of course, the play of second-year running back James Conner through the first half of the season has largely made Bell a past-tense discussion, and that becomes increasingly more evident with each passing week. Mike Tomlin rushed out of the conference room last week when the last question was about Bell.
And David DeCastro is done talking about it. “Honestly, no one cares anymore”, he said after yesterday’s game. “Why would I? I don’t want to waste the energy. I have to block some of the best players on the best defense in the world. Do you think I’m going to worry about a guy who’s not here?”.
David DeCastro didn’t hold back on Le’Veon Bell’s absence during post-game locker room session, but DeCastro has been consistent with this message throughout. pic.twitter.com/Z7emPbbszy
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) November 5, 2018
Through the first eight games of the 2018 regular season, Conner has rushed for 706 yards on 151 attempts, averaging 4.7 yards per carry, along with nine rushing touchdowns. He has also added 379 receiving yards and another touchdown on 38 receptions. His 1085 yards from scrimmage is the second-most in team history through eight games behind only Bell’s 2014 season.
“Like I’ve said before, I love Le’Veon”, DeCastro picked up. “There’s great memories with him. But it would do an injustice to this game worrying about someone else when I’m on the field. I’m just trying to give my best effort for the rest of the people on the field with me”.
Prior to yesterday’s game, when asked about Bell, Tomlin said that he was looking for volunteers, not hostages. Conner has more than volunteered to shoulder the load for this group, and with Bell’s decision not to report with his teammates, he evidently would be an unwilling contributor.
I’m sure you can go up and down the locker room at this point, and you would hear similar answers to the Bell questions as the one DeCastro gave, assuming that you could find anybody even willing to deal with the subject, week after week.
The good news is that resolution is on the horizon. Bell only has until next Tuesday to report to the Steelers. If he does not show up by then, he would by rule be ineligible to play for the remainder of the 2018 season. So we will know within eight days if he will ever wear a Steelers uniform again.