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Le'Veon Bell likely to return to Steelers next week

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Le'Veon Bell's training camp and preseason absence might be nearing its end.

The league's most versatile running back will likely return to Pittsburgh sometime next week, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported on Total Access Monday.

"[He's] expected to return to the Pittsburgh Steelers, not this week but likely at the start or right before the start of next week, which is consistent with his schedule the entire time," Rapoport said. "This has always been Le'Veon Bell's plan. Stay home, train in Florida. ...Let the Steelers get through the preseason, get through training camp in Latrobe, get back to Pittsburgh, play the three preseason games.

"Then he is set to show up, sign his $12.1 million franchise tender and play for his team. If this all sounds familiar, it's almost exactly what Eric Berry did with the Kansas City Chiefs last year."

Berry then signed a massive six-year, $78 million contract the following offseason putting him at the top of the market for his position, and while Bell might not be as lucky, the franchise tender will set him up nicely for negotiations in 2018. If the Steelers opt to franchise him again, he'll make north of $14 million next year.

While the Steelers never feared Bell's absence would bleed into the regular season -- president Art Rooney II said as much last week -- his return adds momentum to an already promising run game. Rookie James Conner rushed the ball 20 times for 98 yards in a Week 2 game against the Falcons on Sunday.

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