Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell told ESPN he is playing football in 2018 and does not expect to be traded.

In fact, he still has hope the team will re-sign him to a long-term contract once his franchise tag is up. Bell is staying away from the team to preserve his body, but a source said Bell is expected to report during the Week 7-8 time frame. The Steelers are on a bye in Week 7.

Bell, who is still sitting out while refusing to sign his franchise tender, said he’s in prime physical condition and could play football “tomorrow” if he needed. He added he’ll be “fully committed” to playing his best for Pittsburgh upon his return.

“But I’ve gotta take this stand. Knowing my worth and knowing I can tear a ligament or get surgery at any time, I knew I couldn’t play 16 games with 400 or more touches.”

Sitting out the entire season was never an option, Bell said. He wants to play for the love of the game and to remind others what he can do, with or without the ball.

James Conner had 31 carries for 131 yards in game 1 and 4.4 yard per carry. Since then? 32 carries for 97 yards and 3.03 ypc. 

If Conner keeps struggling, Bell will be welcomed with open arms. All they care about in the Steel City is winning, at any cost.