November 9, 2018 / 3:46 PM / 7 months ago

Rooney expects Bell to return next week

Days after being spotted playing basketball in Pittsburgh, Le’Veon Bell’s return to the Steelers could be imminent, according to team president Art Rooney II.

FILE PHOTO: Jan 28, 2018; Orlando, CA, USA; AFC tight end Delanie Walker of the Tennessee Titans (82) celebrates with Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (26) after scoring on a 4-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter in the 2018 NFL Pro Bowl at Camping World Stadium. The AFC defeated the NFC 24-23. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

During an interview on Sirius XM radio, Rooney said the team expects the holdout running back to report to the team next week.

“I don’t know what his plans are, but I would say that at this point we expect him to come back next week,” Rooney said.

Either way, Rooney is hoping for some kind of communication with Bell.

“We know he’s back in Pittsburgh, and so we’re hoping to have some communications with him over the weekend, and we’re kind of expecting he will be back next week.”

The Steelers improved to 6-2-1 without Bell after Thursday night’s 52-21 rout of the Carolina Panthers.

James Conner, filling in at running back, ran 13 times for 65 yards and a touchdown in the blowout. Conner has 1,158 yards from scrimmage with 11 touchdowns.

Bell’s holding out after the Steelers failed to meet his contract demands, sacrificing more than $8 million in salary during the ongoing stalemate. Reporting after the July 15 deadline to sign a long-term deal, but before Week 1, would have assured Bell the entirety of his $14.5 million franchise tender for 2018.

Bell is facing the latest deadline in the off-field-drama next week. He must report by Tuesday or will become ineligible to play this season.

—Field Level Media

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