This won’t exactly be a happy reunion.
Jets running back Le’Veon Bell faces his former team, the Steelers, for the first time this Sunday at MetLife Stadium. It seems Bell, who sat out all of last season with the Steelers while holding out for a new contract instead of playing on the franchise tag, hasn’t remained tight with Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin, who says he no longer has a relationship with his former player.
“I have none,” Tomlin told reporters Tuesday, per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “I don’t communicate with him. He’s a New York Jet.”
It wouldn’t be a surprise if some in the Steelers organization don’t hold Bell in high regard after he skipped the entire 2018 season. The 27-year-old running back made the Pro Bowl in three of his first five seasons with the Steelers, who selected Bell in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft, and he eclipsed 1,800 yards from scrimmage in each of those Pro Bowl years (2014, ’15 and ’17.)
He hasn’t quite had the same success with the Jets after signing a four-year, $52.5 million deal this offseason. In 13 games, Bell has 676 yards rushing, 404 yards receiving and four total touchdowns. Bell missed the Jets’ Dec. 8 win over the Dolphins because of the flu; despite being ruled out due to the illness, he went bowling for several hours the night before.
Tomlin did say Bell has a “complete game,” but wouldn’t say whether the Steelers have an advantage against Bell because of their familiarity with him.
“I don’t have to tackle him. I don’t have a lot to worry about,” Tomlin said. “Tackling him is the issue. His teammates have seen him in [a] training-camp like setting. It won’t be the first time those guys had a chance to combat him in those ways.”
For more on the Jets, listen to the latest episode of the “Gang’s All Here” podcast: