Reports: Steelers’ Bell fails to report, Conner to start vs. Browns

The Sports Xchange

September 08, 2018 at 4:38 pm.

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell did not report to the team before Saturday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline, multiple media outlets reported.

Bell’s absence means that he’ll officially forfeit his Week 1 game check worth $853,000. He has refused to sign a $14.5 million franchise tag while pursuing a new contract.

The Steelers were headed to Cleveland for their regular-season opener against the Browns.

Second-year running back James Conner is expected to start in place of Bell, who may not be available for Week 2 — or even longer, given the remarks of his agent Adisa Bakari on Sirius XM NFL Radio on Wednesday. The 26-year-old Bell would have to report prior to Week 11 to earn an accrued year toward free agency and hit the open market in 2019.

“(We’ll find out) when we find out,” Bakari said. “I think Mike Tomlin said it best yesterday. He’ll get there when he’s there and we’ll address those issues when he arrives.”

Bell was absent from team activities since the deadline for clubs to sign franchise-tagged players to an extension.

“(There is) no end game here other than Le’Veon Bell protecting his body for his next team,” NFL Network’s Aditi Kinkhabwala said Saturday on “Good Morning Football Weekend.”

He struggled out of the blocks in 2017 before finishing the season with 1,291 rushing yards and 85 receptions for 655 yards. Bell was selected to the Pro Bowl for the third time and was named All-Pro for the second time.