Steelers' Tomlin wants Bell in 'better condition' upon return

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin instructs drills during minicamp at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on June 12.Photo: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (file photo)

Tomlin: "I'm hopeful that he'll be in better condition even than he was a year ago."

Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin wants to see a slight difference in Le'Veon Bell upon the star running back's expected return to training camp this year.

Tomlin told CBS Sports that he would like to see Bell in camp, albeit in better shape than last year.

"I'm hopeful that he'll get to us sooner," Tomlin said. "I'm hopeful that he'll be in better condition even than he was a year ago. Those are two key components that are allowing me to have a wait-and-see attitude."

Bell and the Steelers failed to agree on a long-term contract prior to the July 16 deadline for franchise players to sign.

As for the "better condition" part of Tomlin's statement, Bell did indeed sputter out of the gates in 2017. After signing on Sept. 4, Bell had just 10 carries for 32 yards and three receptions for 15 yards in the Steelers' 21-18 victory over the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 10.

Bell got it in gear fairly quickly, however, as he was a first-team All-Pro selection in 2017. He led the NFL in regular-season carries with 321 while gaining 1,291 rushing yards. He also had 85 receptions for 655 yards.

The 26-year-old Bell added 16 carries, 67 rushing yards, nine receptions and 88 receiving yards in the postseason.

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