PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethsliberger says he hopes to see running back Le’Veon Bell back with the team tomorrow.
Roethlisberger told 93.7 The Fan “we have to focus on the 53 that are there, and get ready for Cleveland.”
The Steelers took the field Monday at 10:45 a.m. and Le’Veon was noticeably absent.
“I spoke to him before camp, but that’s it,” Roethlisberger said. “A lot of people expected him here yesterday, people were hoping, thinking, but we went about our business, we hope he’s here tomorrow.”
Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert issued a statement about Bell saying:
“We are disappointed Le’Veon Bell has not signed his franchise tender and rejoined his teammates. Coach Tomlin and the coaching staff will continue to focus on preparing the players on our roster for our regular season opener on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said the team is “singularly focused on the guys being here.”
Bell has not signed his $14.5 million franchise tender and cannot play until he does so.
“I don’t think many people have talked to him, coaches, players have reached out,” Roethlisberger said. “He wrote me a long note before camp and explained what was going on. I understand what is going on and where he’s coming from.”
He can still show up at any point and sign the tag, but he can also, by collective bargaining agreement, skip the first nine weeks of the season, show up for week 10 and still count that as a full year of service. He would, however, leave $8.5 million on the table.
Until Bell shows up, James Conner gets the first team snaps.
“We all know Le’Veon’s running style is unique and it’s different for the line, it’s a change for everybody but I think James Conner really took advantage of the opportunity and has done some great things.
Last year, when Bell also played on the franchise tag, he reported on Labor Day, practiced four times and then played in the season opener in Cleveland.
The Steelers open this season Sept. 9 in Cleveland.