Agent confirms Le'Veon Bell will likely skip training camp, report to Steelers for Week 1

After failing to sign him to a long-term contract before the franchise-tag deadline on Monday, the Pittsburgh Steelers probably won't be seeing star running back Le'Veon Bell until just before Week 1 of the upcoming season.

On Tuesday, Bell's agent confirmed what we all suspected. Bell likely won't participate in training camp and the preseason as he prepares to play under the franchise tag for a second consecutive season.

That won't come as a surprise to the Steelers. According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, "This has been the team's expectation all along."

Speaking of expectations, nobody should expect Bell's absence from training camp and the preseason to impact his performance over the course of the season. He skipped training camp and the preseason last year under similar circumstances -- he turned down the Steelers' contract offer and opted to play under the franchise tag -- and after a slow start to the season, he proceeded to total 1,946 yards and 11 touchdowns from scrimmage, which led to him getting franchise tagged for a second straight season and here we are again talking about Bell's probable holdout. 

The Steelers, who are far and away the best team in the AFC North, don't necessarily need Bell to be at his best in Week 1. They need him to peak in December and January. Based on last season, his holdout shouldn't impact his production come the winter. 

"Le'Veon understood the entire time what was at stake and what some of the key factors were and consummating an agreement with the Steelers," Bakari said on ESPN, via NFL.com. "He is going to approach this offseason the way he always has. ... He's going to be ready for the start of the season. ... If history is any indicator there is no reason to doubt that."

From Bell's perspective, he needs to do everything in his power to preserve his body. 

"It's not a strategy, it's not a ploy to pressure anyone," Bakari said on SiriusXM NFL Radio, per NFL.com. "It's quite frankly a way to preserve the body.

Bell, a 26-year-old running back who should finally get his chance to test the market after the coming season, is right to prioritize himself in this situation. Preseason carries might help him get ready for Week 1, but he needs to be ready for the 2019 offseason more than anything. And any upset fans asking Bell to prioritize the team over himself should also remember that because Bell is going to be a free agent after the season, he's never been more incentivized to play his best football, which in turn should help the Steelers win football games.

CBS Sports Writer

Sean Wagner-McGough joined CBS Sports in 2015 after graduating from UC Berkeley. A native of Seattle, Sean now resides in the Bay Area. He spends his spare time defending Jay Cutler on Twitter. Full Bio

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