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Ben Roethlisberger: Steelers would welcome back Le’Veon Bell

October 3, 2018

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger walks off the field after throwing a fourth-quarter interception against the Ravens Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018 at Heinz Field.

Ben Roethlisberger thinks the Pittsburgh Steelers gladly will accept Le’Veon Bell if he rejoins the team during its bye in two weeks - on one condition.

“If he can come back and help us and be ready to go, then we’ll be ready to welcome him back,” Roethlisberger said Tuesday on his 93.7 FM radio segment. “There were a lot of things said earlier this year, but that’s in the past. We’ve moved on, and he’s moving on in a sense to getting back and being with us.”

ESPN reported Monday night that Bell, who has yet to sign his $14.544 million franchise-tag tender, will report during the bye week, which comes after the Steelers’ sixth game of the season.

Bell already has forfeited $3.42 million of his $14.544 million franchise-tag tender by not reporting to the team. If he doesn’t report until after Week 6, the lost income will reach $5.13 million.

Bell has spent his time away from the team in South Florida. He told ESPN that he has been working out regularly, and Roethlisberger is expecting Bell to show up in peak physical condition.

Football condition is another matter.

“I think the key is if and when he gets here, I’m sure he’s not going to be in ready-to-go football shape, get the ball 30 times in a game,” Roethlisberger said. “But we don’t necessarily need that.”

The Steelers reportedly have listened to trade offers for Bell, but Roethlisberger hopes the running back can finish the year with the team. The trade deadline is Oct. 30.

“He’s been a teammate of ours and a really good football player and I hope he comes in and can help us,” Roethlisberger said. “Right now we can take some help.”

The Steelers are off to their worst start in five years and take a 1-2-1 record into their home game Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.

Without Bell, the Steelers are ranked No. 28 in rushing offense. James Conner had 135 yards rushing and two touchdowns in the season opener but has gained 97 yards on 32 carries in the past three games.

“James has been doing a great job and done really good things for us,” Roethlisberger said. “People probably scratch their heads when I say James has been doing good because he hasn’t gotten a lot of rushing yards. But the things we’ve asked him to do, picking up blitzes, pass protecting, catching the ball out of the backfield, has been awesome.”

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