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Le'Veon Bell not present at start of Steelers camp

As expected, Le'Veon Bell didn't show up to the opening of Pittsburgh Steelers training camp.

The news comes as no surprise after the running back failed to come to terms on a long-term contract with the team at the July 17 deadline for players on franchise tags. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reports Bell is expected to remain away from camp for several weeks.

Bell will play under the $12.1 million tag. Since he has yet to sign the tender, Bell is not subject to fines for skipping training camp workouts.

In an interview with ESPN last week, Bell hinted he would wait until later in camp to show up.

"The way I train, all it's going to take for me is a few practices and some game action," Bell told Jeremy Fowler at the time. "I haven't thought about it that far. I'm game planning today. I was thinking the deal would be done. I'm going to take it day-to-day and see what happens."

The game plan ended up being skipping the start of camp.

As we saw with Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry last season, Bell could wait well into camp and the preseason to show up.

"Obviously I would like him to be here," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin told reporters Thursday. "I'm going to focus my energies on the guys who are. It's an unfortunate circumstance, one that we'll deal with, one that he'll deal. I've had good, clean communication with him. I'll leave the nature of those conversations between us. But rest assured that he'll be ready to play football. When he gets here, I don't know. I'll remain focused on the guys who are here and their overall development. When he gets here, he gets here."

Bell's absence won't stop teammates like Antonio Brown from imploring the running back to return to the practice field.

While Brown never held out for a new deal, it's easier for the receiver to talk about showing up to work after he got paid a five-year, $72 million contract in February. Bell, however, feels like he's "worth more" than the Steelers offered.

According to NFL Network analyst, and former teammate of Bell, Ike Taylor, Bell is seeking to be paid like the No. 1 running back and No. 2 receiver (Bell finished behind only Brown in receiving yards for the Steelers last season).

With sides unable to discuss a long-term contract until after the season, Bell's only recourse is to skip camp practices.

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