NFL Football

Steelers RB Bell expected to miss another preseason game

(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

(TSX / STATS) -- Pittsburgh Steelers star running back Le'Veon Bell, who has yet to report to training camp or sign his $12.12 million franchise tender, is expected miss another preseason game as he continues his holdout.

Bell plans to stay away from Week 3 of the preseason, but a source told ESPN he could be back with the Steelers shortly after Saturday's game against the Indianapolis Colts.

The 25-year-old Bell can't be fined for his absence from the preseason because he doesn't have a contract. He isn't allowed to receive a long-term deal this season because the deadline for tagged players passed on July 17.

Bell has been in South Florida training on his own for most of August.

The Steelers can tag the Bell for the second straight season in 2018 at $14.54 million or re-sign him. The franchise tag still has Bell as the league's highest-paid tailback in 2017.

Bell, who is recovering from groin surgery, aggravated the injury that kept him on the sideline for the majority of last season's AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots.

The Steelers rode Bell to the playoffs in 2016. He rushed for 1,268 yards and seven touchdowns in 12 games and caught 75 passes for another 616 yards and two scores during the regular season, becoming the first player in NFL history to average 100 rushing yards and 50 receiving yards per game.

Bell set franchise rushing records in the first two playoff games. He racked up 167 yards in a victory over Miami in the AFC wild-card round and bettered that with 170 in the victory over Kansas City in the divisional round.

Meanwhile, in the Steelers' 17-13 preseason win over the Atlanta Falcons at Heinz Field on Sunday, third-round pick James Conner rushed for 98 yards on 20 carries while filling in for Bell.

Conner, from the University of Pittsburgh, broke off runs of 17 and 19 yards, leading to Bart Houston's go-ahead, 6-yard touchdown pass to Justin Hunter in the fourth quarter. Conner had three other runs longer than 10 yards.

"With all the runs, I was getting more comfortable," said Conner, who overcame Hodgkin's lymphoma and a serious right knee injury to reach the NFL. "We kept ripping off big ones."

Updated August 21, 2017

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