September 9, 2018 / 1:07 AM / in a month

NFL notebook: Steelers RB Bell absent, gives up $853,000

Le’Veon Bell gave up $853,000 by not reporting to the Pittsburgh Steelers before Saturday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline as his contract holdout continues.

Oct 18, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (26) runs the ball against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half at Heinz Field. The Steelers won the game, 25-13. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports / Reuters

Bell did not sign his one-year, $14.54 million franchise tender after the Steelers retained him in March using the franchise tag. The two sides failed to reach agreement despite negotiating toward a long-term contract in July. Based on the value of the franchise tender, Bell would earn $853K for every game this season.

Several teammates chided Bell for staying away this week, including left guard Ramon Foster and center Maurkice Pouncey.

Without the All-Pro halfback, the Steelers are turning to James Conner as the starter. Conner, a second-year back from Pitt, was the highest-graded running back in preseason, according to Pro Football Focus. Conner played in 14 games last season, gaining 144 yards on 32 carries for an average of 4.5 yards per carry.

—Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas was promoted to the 53-man active roster for the start of the regular season.

Thomas, a three-time first-team All-Pro, reported earlier this week after an offseason holdout and is prepared to play out the final year of his existing contract. He held out from training camp, wanting a new multiyear deal.

Thomas is the final remaining member of the “Legion of Boom” secondary, which lost Kam Chancellor (neck injury) and Richard Sherman (released, signed with San Francisco) in the offseason. Starting right cornerback Dontae Johnson was also placed on injured reserve on Saturday.

—Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen was added to the injury report, as the team listed him as questionable with a back injury.

With the Panthers already thin at the position, losing Olsen likely would lead to major alterations in the team’s game plan against the Dallas Cowboys, who visit Bank of America Stadium for the regular-season opener on Sunday. Ian Thomas likely would get more reps if Olsen is out or his availability is limited.

Not having Olsen could necessitate a roster move on Sunday. Chris Manhertz is dealing with a foot injury, and the third-stringer was not expected to be active against Dallas.

—Cincinnati signed wide receiver and returner Alex Erickson to a two-year contract extension, the team announced.

Erickson was in the final season of a three-year, $1.62 million contract with the club. The new deal calls for him to earn $4.68 million, plus incentives, through 2020, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

The Bengals signed the 25-year-old Erickson in 2016 as an undrafted free agent from Wisconsin. In two NFL seasons, he has 18 receptions for 251 yards. He has made his name as a returner, leading the league in punt returns (39) in 2017 and kick return yardage (810) in 2016.

—The New Orleans Saints released veteran offensive lineman Jermon Bushrod and promoted running back Jonathan Williams from the practice squad to the 53-man roster.

The promotion of Williams gives New Orleans three running backs for Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Alvin Kamara and Mike Gillislee are the others.

New Orleans also re-signed quarterback J.T. Barrett to the practice squad, according to two Louisiana media outlets.

—Former NFL fullback Jameel Cook faces felony charges for allegedly stealing more than $100,000 through fraudulent claims for medical and other expenses, according to multiple reports.

Authorities in Texas say Cook, 39, submitted false claims for benefits from the Gene Upshaw NFL Player Health Reimbursement Account. He has been charged with allegedly securing the execution of documents by deception, a third-degree felony.

He allegedly submitted 30 fraudulent claims between March 2016 and September 2017 for expenses he said he incurred. If convicted of the charges, he faces up to 10 years in prison.

—Field Level Media

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