Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell is expected to return before the Steelers play the Browns on October 28. However, the team reportedly hasn't heard from their star back. According to ESPN, Bell hasn't reached out to team officials about his return date.
Bell has been holding out in protest of the Steelers using the franchise tag on him for a second consecutive year. Bell believed that the risk of injury in the final year of his contract was too great for a payday he felt was less than he deserved.
Bell told ESPN earlier this week that he wants to play and expected to be back by October 28.
"It sucks having to sit out football," Bell said. "I want to play. I want to win games and the playoffs. But I've gotta take this stand. Knowing my worth and knowing I can tear a ligament or get surgery at any time, I knew I couldn't play 16 games with 400 or more touches."
Given what happened to Earl Thomas, a player in a similar situation in Seattle, his wariness is justified. Thomas had avoided practices for fear of wear-and-tear on his body, knowing that the team did not plan to offer him another contract. He suffered a season-ending injury on September 30 and flipped off the Seahawks as he was being carted off the field. Bell offered to continue his holdout, playing the "bad guy" in Thomas' stead.
While Bell has been out, running back James Conner has made a case to start for the team. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said that he believes Conner has earned a place on the field even when Bell returns.
"I think James has done some amazing things and deserves to be on the field," Roethlisberger said. "We also know what Le'Veon is and what he brings to the table. I guess we'll cross that bridge if and when it happens."