Le'Veon Bell sends cryptic tweet after Steelers tie Browns, teammate already tired of talking about missing RB

The Steelers were without Le'Veon Bell on Sunday in Cleveland but they didn't seem to miss him; second-year running back James Conner ran for 135 yards and two touchdowns, and added another 57 receiving yards in the team's 21-21 tie. Conner also had a fumble that jump-started the Browns' 14-point second-half comeback, but the Steelers' loss had more to do with Ben Roethlisberger's five turnovers.

Either way, moments after the final whistle the Steelers finally heard from Bell, who had gone silent since failing to report last week.

Yes, that's the 'Face with monocle' emoji. And before you assume that that Bell was trolling the team he's currently at odds with over his contract, he can explain.

To be fair, the last time the Steelers played to a tie, Tommy Maddox threw for 473 yards, Plaxico Burress had 253 yards receiving and Amos Zereoue (!) ran for another 123 yards in a 34-34 finish against Michael Vick and the Falcons on Nov. 10, 2002. Bell was 10 years old.

Meanwhile, days after several Steelers' offensive linemen called out Bell for not showing up after the preseason, right guard David DeCastro is already tired of talking about the running back.

"I'm so tired of Le'Veon," DeCastro told reporters after Sunday's tie. "I'm so tired of it. Let's just worry about the guys in here. I know you guys have stories to write and what not. I love Le'Veon, but we gotta worry about the guys in here. They're the only people that matter to me."

As it stands, it's unclear when Bell will  rejoin the Steelers because one of the league's most dynamic players wants to be paid like a running back and a receiver -- he rushed for 1,291 yards and caught 85 passes last season. But he reportedly turned down contracts the last two offseasons that would have made him the NFL's highest-paid back.

Player holdouts are nothing new, of course, but what makes Bell's case different is that his teammates appeared genuinely shocked that he didn't return to Pittsburgh last week. And that -- not that Bell thinks he's underpaid -- is why the Steelers locker room reacted the way it did when Bell was MIA.

So the Steelers will move forward with Conner until Bell resurfaces.

And when might that be?

CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported Sunday on "The NFL Today" that the Steelers are bracing for a lengthy absence, adding that there is no indication when Bell plans to sign the franchise tender. Some team officials told La Canfora that they expect the running back will skip 4-6 games to reduce his risk of injury.

Bell will lose $855,000 for every week he sits out, and he could be down as much as $8.55 million should he skip the first 10 games. After that he'll need to report to still be eligible for free agency next March.

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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