Sources told ESPN and NFL Network that team busses hit the road to travel to Cleveland for Sunday’s game against the Browns, but Bell was not on board. The three-time Pro Bowl selection led the league with 321 carries last season while running for 1,291 yards and nine scores. He also had a career-best 85 catches for 655 yards and two scores.
Bell held out for a contract this offseason by not reporting to the team during OTAs or training camp. The Steelers opted to put him on the franchise tag, meaning a $14.45 million salary for 2018, but Bell has refused to sign that pact. Bell will forfeit $855,000 for each week he does not report to the team.
With Bell absent from Sunday’s game, the Steelers will look to second-year running back James Conner to start the game.
Conner, 23, had 19 carries for 100 yards and a touchdown in the preseason, while making seven catches for 61 yards. He had 32 carries for 144 yards in 14 games during the 2017 season.