Mike Tomlin is 'done with Le'Veon Bell questions' on the first day of training camp
The NFL's best running back plans to skip the preseason ... again
The Steelers arrived for training camp today -- most by land vehicle and one enterprising soul by helicopter -- but it was no surprise that Le'Veon Bell was a no-show. Just like last year, Bell is holding out for a long-term deal he won't be getting because the deadline for such deals passed earlier this month.
The plan is for Bell to show up just before the start of the season -- as he did a year ago -- and resume his role as one of the league's most dangerous backs, both as a runner and a receiver. Then, next offseason, he'll almost certainly hit free agency where he'll hope to improve on Todd Gurley's just-signed four-year, $60 million extension.
For now, however, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is left to answer questions while Bell remains at home. Not surprisingly, Tomlin has no interest in such endeavors.
Last month, after admitting he was "excited and hopeful" that the Steelers and Bell would get a deal done -- and weeks after Bell reportedly turned down a $70 million multi-year contract (though, to be fair, only $33 million was guaranteed), Tomlin opened camp by answering more questions regarding Bell's whereabouts.
"Both sides tried in earnest to get a deal done ... when he gets here we'll evaluate his overall readiness," Tomlin said, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette.
Tomlin went on to say he was impressed with Bell's readiness to play when he finally returned to the team last year before Week 1. He added that he's "encouraged" by some of the other running backs currently on the roster -- that includes 2017 third-rounder James Conner, veteran free-agent acquisition Stevan Ridley and 2018 fifth-round pick Jaylen Samuels.
Then NFL Network's Aditi Kinkhabwala asked a question.
"Maybe I'll text him today to come a week earlier so we won't be as rusty in the beginning," he said, presumably with a healthy dose of sarcasm.
Antonio Brown added: "It's a business."
In simplest terms, the Steelers head into 2018 much like they headed into 2017 -- with one of the league's most explosive offenses and without one of the league's best backs until September. Incidentally, whether this team can improve on last year's 13-3 mark will come down to how much the defense improves.
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