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Browns will not face Le’Veon Bell on Sunday

Pittsburgh running back does not travel with team as his holdout continues.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns are catching a break as the Pittsburgh Steelers willb e without running back Le’Veon Bell for Sunday’s season opener at FirstEnergy Stadium.

Bell and the Steelers are in a protracted contract dispute and Bell did not report in time to catch a ride on the team bus, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter:

A similar situation almost played out last season, but Bell reported in time to play in the Week 1 game. The Browns shut him down, however, holding Bell to just 32 yards on 10 carries.

That hasn’t always been the case as in five previous games against the Browns, Bell averaged 4.6 yards per carry while rushing for 507 yards and three touchdowns.

In Bell’s place, the Browns will face second-year running back James Conner, who ran four times for 11 yards in the last year’s Week 1 matchup.

Even though Bell will not be on the field, Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is not taking anything for granted, according to

“I think Connor has really done well in the preseason, having taken a look at that and you take a look at the other times that they had their other backs coming in there. It may be a two-headed or three-headed monster where whoever the backs dress instead of Le’Veon just taking all of them. We are used to doing that. We are used to seeing that so just got to adapt to wherever they play.”

With Sunday’s weather forecast calling for rain and high winds, which should lend itself to a run-dominated game plan, not having to face Bell certainly works in the Browns favor.