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James Conner

(Philip G. Pavely/USA TODAY Sports)

Report: James Conner Likely To Start Week One Even If Le’Veon Bell Returns

James Conner
James Conner will start regardless of Le’Veon Bell in week one according to the latest reports (Philip G. Pavely/USA TODAY Sports)

Le’Veon Bell is nowhere to be found. Maybe he joined Amari Cooper in witness protection because at this point we have no clue where Bell is. The GM is releasing statements how he’s disappointed in Bell and Mike Tomlin is essentially refusing to talk about him. A lot of Steelers fans out there or panicking or at least a little nervous BUT… maybe they shouldn’t be. The reports out of Pittsburgh look like James Conner is going to be the guy who gets the start in week one of the season.

Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette is reporting the Steelers appear ready to start James Conner even if Bell shows up this week.

Mike Tomlin was asked why he’s not concerned about Bell at the moment for one reason:

“James — the status and condition and approach of James,” Tomlin said. “Being a rookie who missed a lot of time due to soft tissue injuries and lack of general readiness to a guy who’s done the things that we outlined.”

Conner does look like a different man in 2018. He’s dropped about 20 pounds this year and looks fully recovered from beating cancer. Conner looked unbelievable this preseason for whatever that’s worth. Conner rushed for 4.5 yards per carry in his short NFL career and looks like he’s ready for a breakout season. Conner was a former third-round pick from the University of Pittsburgh for a reason.

For what it’s worth, Bell probably can’t be counted on in week one. Last year Bell rushed for 32 yards on 10 carries in week one against Cleveland. Pittsburgh opens up against Cleveland again playing a defense that really isn’t so bad. If Bell does not return, he will lose $856,000 per week for every week he doesn’t return to the Steelers facility.

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