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Maurkice Pouncey on when Le’Veon Bell will show up: ‘I wish I knew’

As Le’Veon Bell’s absence from the Pittsburgh Steelers drags beyond a week past the close of training camp, even one of the team’s leaders claims to have no clue when the running back will ultimately show up.

Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey opened up about Bell once again showing up at the last minute for the second season in a row.

“I wish I knew,” Pouncey said of Bell, via ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. “He’s kind of kept to himself about it.”

Bell ultimately rejoined the Steelers last season the Monday ahead of the team’s Week 1 game. The expectation has to be the same this year as Bell once again has not signed the franchise-tag tender that will pay him $14.544 million in 2018.

The 26-year-old all-purpose back, playing on the franchise tag for $12.12 million, enjoyed a solid 2017 campaign despite his late arrival, although it did include a slow start. Bell failed to notch a 100-yard rushing game until Week 4. He did finish with 1,291 yards, though, good for third in the NFL.

Pouncey did not mince words when asked if the expectation is that Bell will show up in shape and ready to roll.

“He better,” Pouncey said, echoing candid comments previously made by Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin.

“With the business part of it, you hate to even comment on it,” Pouncey added. “It’s their own decision how they make it … I hope he shows up next week. We’ve got Carolina. We could get some practice reps in with him, see how things turn out. I’m pretty sure he’s in great shape.”

The notion that Bell has been a prominent topic of discussion throughout the Steelers’ offseason program and camp is hardly a surprise. While Bell’s teammates generally have supported him throughout the protracted contract situation, it’s clear they expect the extremely talented, all-purpose back to be in top form whenever he does make his long-awaited appearance.