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Tomlin not concerned with Bell’s absence

By Justin McGonigle

The Steelers concluded their mandatory mini camp on Thursday and a key piece of their potent offense remained missing. Running back Le’veon Bell was a no show for the mini camp as he recovers from offseason surgery to repair a groin injury he suffered in the Steelers late season run to the AFC Championship game. Though an injury may be the main reason for Bell’s absence a rumbling of a potential holdout has headlined the Steelers early workouts. The Steelers placed the franchise tag on Bell to prevent him from becoming a free agent in March, and to give them more time to work out a long term contract with him.

Even though NFL mini camps are mandatory for all players to attend, Bell isn’t required to be there because he technically isn’t under contract because he hasn’t signed his franchise tag contract yet. Without him being under contract the Steelers aren’t allowed to discipline Bell for not attending. Bell has until July 15th to sign his franchise offer which he is expected to do if no long term deal is reached.

“I tend to focus on guys who are here and working,” Tomlin said. “I think that’s appropriate when you are in my positon. It’s a waste of my time to focus on the guys who are not available to me, whether its injury or otherwise.”

With the Steelers poised to make another deep run into the playoffs I’m sure they would like to have their starting running back in the fold. Even if it is ‘football in shorts’ as Mike Tomlin always says. Its likely Bell would’ve been held out of drills but it would’ve been nice to have him there for team meetings and mental preparation.

“Obviously, we want him to be here for as much as he can be,” Ben Roethlisberger told DKPittsburgh Sports. “But he is only allowed to be here for certain things. We hope a deal gets done so he can be apart of what we think will be something special.”

The belief is strong that the Steelers and Bell will come to an agreement on a contract that will keep Bell in Pittsburgh for a long time. Antonio Brown was the top priority of the offseason because the Steelers knew they could buy time with the franchise tag on Bell. Brown was given a 72 million dollar contract in February that made him the highest paid receiver in the league on average. Bell could become the highest paid running back in the NFL when he inks his new deal.

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