October 15, 2018 / 11:57 PM / in a month

Steelers don't expect Bell to return this week: reports

Sep 27, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (26) is tackled by St. Louis Rams middle linebacker James Laurinaitis (55) during the first half at the Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports / Reuters

Disgruntled holdout running back Le’Veon Bell did not show up for player meetings with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday morning, and the team does not expect him to appear this week, according to multiple reports.

The Steelers are on their bye week with practices scheduled Tuesday and Wednesday before a break that ends Oct. 22. Under terms of the collective bargaining agreement, players must have four consecutive days off during the bye week. Coach Mike Tomlin is giving the team off days Thursday through Sunday.

Previously, Bell told ESPN that he intends to end his holdout at some point to play this season, his sixth in the NFL, all with the Steelers. A source told ESPN that Bell was targeting a return during Pittsburgh’s bye week.

Bell, who has forfeited more than $850K with each missed week, would forfeit the same amount if he does not appear during the bye, despite the team not having a game.

The Steelers next play Oct. 28 against the Cleveland Browns.

Bell has refused to sign the team’s $14.54 million franchise tag and wants a new contract. Over the summer, the Steelers reportedly offered Bell a five-year, $70 million contract, but Bell balked because only $17 million was guaranteed. Big-name running backs Todd Gurley and David Johnson, who signed new contracts, received at least twice that amount in money guaranteed.

If Bell returns to the Steelers (3-2-1), he will be going back to a team that has found a capable replacement at running back. Second-year back James Conner has run the ball 103 times for 453 yards (4.4-yard average) and seven touchdowns. He also has caught 26 passes for 257 yards in six games. That’s the third-most receptions on the team, behind JuJu Smith-Schuster and Antonio Brown.

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