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Sandwich, Helmet, Teammates Await Bell’s Return to Steelers

Le’Veon Bell reportedly intends to return to the Steelers before the second Browns game on Oct. 28, but hasn’t yet. But that didn’t stop some of his teammates from trying to have some fun with Bell at the media’s expense.

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They slipped on a banana peel in Cleveland, got ambushed by Kansas City and were bullied by Baltimore, and that was just over the course of the first six weeks of the season.

And yet all is far from lost for the Steelers at 3-2-1.

They might even be a first-place team by the time they reconvene next week and begin preparations for their rematch with Cleveland.

Should New Orleans win on Sunday afternoon at Baltimore and should Kansas City handle a Sunday night hosting of Cincinnati, the Steelers would emerge from this weekend’s bye on top of the AFC North Division. Their winning percentage of .583 would be just north of the Ravens and Bengals at 4-3-0 (.571).

The NFL may never have been more of a week-to-week league than it is this season.

Perhaps that’s why the Steelers were in such a jovial mood during a couple of days devoted to bye week practices on the South Side.

Le’Veon Bell wasn’t a part of those; he reportedly intends to show up before the second Browns game on Oct. 28 but hasn’t yet. But that didn’t stop the rest of the Steelers from trying to have some fun with Bell at the media’s expense.

One day there was a styrofoam sandwich container sitting on the chair in front of Bell’s locker at the team’s practice facility on the South Side. The next day it was Bell’s helmet.

Where’s Le’Veon? When’s he coming? Twitter has been having some fun with those subjects, as well.

The presumption is he’ll rejoin the team sooner rather than later. The players will tell you they “don’’t want to talk about Le’Veon,” but they’ll also tell you he’s a “special player” (Marcus Gilbert). That Bell is “a workhorse,” and a “huge mismatch against linebackers out in the slot in the passing game” (David DeCastro). That whatever has been said, done or posted on social media, “whoever’s part of this locker room, we’ll ride or die with” (Cam Heyward).

James Conner has been a revelation at running back over the first six games.

But offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner wouldn’t hesitate to add another one of those.

“I’d take four if we could have them,” Fichtner insisted. “We want all the good players we can get.”

Especially ones that have been a two-time, first-team AP All-Pro.

It’s still a huge presumption to suggest Bell can be that again for the Steelers, this season or ever again.

It might even be a reach.

But what if it isn’t?

What if Bell returns and becomes the difference between slipping on a banana peel and winning against Cleveland? Between being ambushed by and outscoring the likes of Kansas City? Between being bullied and having just enough counter punches against Baltimore?

Between being on the right side of a percentage-points battle in the standings in late-December rather than mid-October?

If Bell is back and back up to speed at any point this season he could be a late-season difference-maker.

And if the Steelers could add one of those, who knows?

It’s not about Conner vs. Bell.

It’s no longer about OTAs, training camp or what happened last week.

It’s about winning by any means necessary, even by welcoming Bell back eventually.

“Whatever it takes to win,” DeCastro said. “I don’t care how we do it.”

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