The Cleveland Browns are catching a break with Le’Veon Bell’s absence

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

As the Pittsburgh Steelers wait for Le’Veon Bell’s return, it appears that the Cleveland Browns will not have to deal with the running back Week 1.

Le’Veon Bell’s absence from the Pittsburgh Steelers has continued this week, despite the thought that he would return for the Steelers’ Week 1 game against the Cleveland Browns.

With Bell’s agent making it seem likely that Bell will not play Sunday, the Browns are going to be catching a big break. But even if Bell shockingly returns and plays this Sunday, he will not be as effective as he usually is.

Bell’s agent told ESPN earlier today that Bell will hold out for as long as necessary to “preserve his long-term health,” and made it seem unlikely he will play Sunday – via Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.

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"The running back is not expected to play Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, barring an unforeseen development, according to a source, and agent Adisa Bakari hinted that Bell might be willing to wait it out longer to preserve his long-term health."

Even if Bell magically returns this week and the Steelers decide to play him, Bell has shown that he is not as effective after immediately returning from a holdout.

Last season, after holding out until the first week of the regular season, Bell did not play as well as he usually does against the Cleveland Browns. Bell rushed for only 32 yards on ten carries, also catching three passes for 15 yards.

Without Bell, the Steelers will likely be starting second-year player James Conner. Cleveland had one of the best rush defenses last season, and returns all but one of their starters. For the Steelers, it may be hard to establish a run game without Bell and relying on Conner.

The Steelers were able to beat the Browns last season despite Bell’s struggles due to a monster game from Antonio Brown. Brown caught 11 passes for 182 receiving yards. But the Browns have upgraded their secondary, and may have the players necessary to not allow Brown to have another game of that caliber.

If the Browns can limit Brown, the Steelers’ offense will not be getting the production they would need from their two best play-makers.

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Without Bell, it will make Sunday’s game much more difficult for the Steelers. The Browns should be licking their chops as they have a good chance to beat the Steelers for the first time since 2014.