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Rooney expects Bell to join Steelers before Week 1

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  • By Jeremy Bergman NFL.com
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Few people, if any, in the Pittsburgh Steelers front office are worried that Le'Veon Bell's absence will extend into the regular season, including the owner.

Steelers president Art Rooney II said Thursday that his star running back should be in the facility before Week 1.

"He has not given any indication to anybody that he plans to hold out into the season," Rooney told reporters, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "But I don't think he's given Mike [Tomlin] any day he's planning to come, either."

When asked when he'd prefer Bell to report to training camp, Rooney was blunt.

"To be honest, I would hope that it's next week [he reports] to give himself two weeks to get acclimated," Rooney said. "I don't think it's been a distraction to the team, so it's really a matter of him getting here to get acclimated to being in pads, working with his teammates. There are advantages to be here practicing with your team."

Earlier this week, general manager Kevin Colbert echoed his boss's sentiments, telling ESPN that it would be "beneficial for everybody to be in camp," including Bell.

"Training camp is important for the growth and preparedness to be ready to play this game opening week," Colbert continued. "We can argue about camp and preseason, how many games and all that, but I do know you need to practice this game to play it at the highest level. Someone once said it would be like boxing without sparring. You can't just show up and play."

If members of Pittsburgh's brass are losing sleep over Bell's extended hitaus, they're not showing it. Bell didn't bite on Pittsburgh's offer of over $12 million per year, as NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, and is instead demanding to be paid like a top running back and a No. 2 wide receiver. However, the two sides can't negotiate a new deal until after season, so there seems to be no hurry from either end.

Rooney and Colbert will probably not get their wish and see Bell report this week, or even next week, but neither honcho is sweating the possibility of a Bell-less season opener.

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