August 23, 2018 / 4:57 PM / a year ago

Bell's return date a mystery to teammates

Sep 27, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (26) carries the ball away from St. Louis Rams middle linebacker James Laurinaitis (55) during the first half at The Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports / Reuters

One prominent member of the Pittsburgh Steelers said he is in the dark when it comes to Le’Veon Bell’s next step.

“I wish I knew,” center Maurkice Pouncey told ESPN. “He’s kind of kept to himself about it.”

Bell is not with the team because he doesn’t want to risk injury playing under the franchise tag. He will earn $14.5 million in 2018 but isn’t under contract until he signs the deal. The two sides couldn’t reach an agreement on a long-term contract. The same thing happened last August, and Bell reported and signed his one-year franchise tender at the start of Week 1.

Bell is training on his own in South Florida.

Pouncey said he’d like Bell to show up earlier this year to connect with the offensive line.

“With the business part of it, you hate to even comment on it,” Pouncey said. “It’s their own decision how they make it ... I hope he shows up next week. We’ve got Carolina (Aug. 30). We could get some practice reps in with him, see how things turn out. I’m pretty sure he’s in great shape.”

Pouncey said he and his teammates have faith in second-year running back James Conner if he turns out to be the primary back in Week 1 against Cleveland. He has carried the ball just nine times in the preseason and averaged 9.1 yards.

Last season, Bell rushed for 1,291 yards and scored nine touchdowns. He added 655 yards on 85 receptions plus two touchdowns through the air.

—Field Level Media

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