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Bell a no-show before Steelers opener; Conner to start

Le'Veon Bell was a no-show Saturday as the Pittsburgh Steelers boarded their buses to Cleveland for their season opener.

In the middle of a prolonged contract dispute, the running back did not show up to the Steelers facility in time to join the team for their Week 1 trip to play the Browns, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported. As a result, Bell will sacrifice a $855,000 game check.

With Bell out, second-year running back James Conner will start in the backfield. Pittsburgh also employs Jaylen Samuels and Stevan Ridley as backup ground-gainers.

Pittsburgh placed the franchise tag on Bell this spring for the second consecutive year, on which Bell would earn $14.45 million, but the All-Pro running back has refused to sign it. Originally expected to sign the tag and return to the team by Labor Day, Bell was nowhere to be found this week, and his Steelers teammates were less than pleased. Among the perturbed were offensive linemen Ramon Foster, Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro.

Despite reports otherwise, the Steelersdo not intend to rescind the franchise tag on Bell, Rapoport reported earlier this week. Such an act that would allow Bell to test free agency immediately.

It is growing liklier that, unless the conversation around his compensation changes, Bell will not report to the team until Week 10, the deadline to report if the 26-year-old wishes to accrue a season toward free agency.

As NFL Network's Aditi Kinkhabwala detailed Saturday morning on Good Morning Football Weekend, Bell and the Steelers remain at a stalemate with "no endgame here other than Le'Veon Bell protecting his body for his next team."

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