Fantasy football owners are furious over Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell's failure to report as the team prepares for Week 1, and now Bell's own teammates are taking shots at him just days from the regular-season opener.
The Steelers have the option of doing so. Bell still has not signed his one-year franchise tender from the Steelers, and his agent said Wednesday morning that Bell will "do the things necessary to protect his value long-term".
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General manager Kevin Colbert - who issued a statement Monday that the team was "disappointed" Bell hadn't signed the tender - will not be made available for comment, but the Steelers issued a statement through director of communications Burt Lauten. "The business part, I get it". We are in win now mode in spite of Big Ben's desire to play beyond this current year.
In 2017 under ex-coordinator Todd Haley, the Steelers' offense got a little stale at times in terms of the volume and versatility of personnel used. (I see you, David Spade.) I get it. I'd like to say the linemen are more important than any skill player, including myself, on this team.
The Steelers are not sweating this situation as much many think they should be. In a separate appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio, Bakari said he and Bell want to know what Pittsburgh's plans are for the running back in regards to workload. The offensive line has every right to be upset over how Bell is handling things.
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"Like I said, we have a lot of weapons", Roethlisberger said. Samuels deserves a decent amount of work as a third-down back, and former Patriots 1,000-yard rusher Stevan Ridley will give Conner a handful of power relief.
"James is a year better than he was last year at this time", said Roethlisberger.
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The Steelers stood firm after Bell threatened to retire if they used the franchise tag on him again and he turned down their five-year contract offer, and only dug in by saying if Bakari "would like to talk further, he has the phone number to our offices". There's a sense of anger that he has intentionally left them in the dark, forcing them to answer for him. In a series of tweets, the former National Football League linebacker addressed the matter, chiding the negative comments made by Bell's teammates.