NFL notebook: Bell inches closer to return to Steelers


At least holdout running back Le’Veon Bell is in the same area code as the Pittsburgh Steelers, two days after posting a farewell message to his offseason home in Miami on social media.

FILE PHOTO: Dec 17, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell (26) runs the ball against New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler (21) during the third quarter at Heinz Field. Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Bell, however, has not yet reported to the Steelers, who play Thursday at home against the Carolina Panthers. Instead, he was spotted Wednesday playing basketball at an L.A. Fitness facility in North Pittsburgh. Opponents and onlookers shared their encounter with Bell on social media, and the facility manager confirmed to ESPN on Wednesday that Bell was present.

He’s holding out after the Steelers failed to meet his contract demands, sacrificing more than $8 million in salary during the ongoing stalemate. Reporting after the July 15 deadline to sign a long-term deal, but before Week 1, would have assured Bell the entirety of his $14.5 million franchise tender for 2018.

Bell is facing the latest deadline in the off-field-drama next week. He must report by Tuesday or will become ineligible to play this season.

—Former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant agreed to a one-year deal with the New Orleans Saints, according to multiple reports, and he won’t have to wait long for a chance to show his old team what he has left. The Saints (7-1) play Dallas (3-5) on Nov. 29.

Bryant will sign the deal on Thursday, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Bryant has been a free agent since he was released by Dallas in April. A three-time Pro Bowl selection, he has 7,459 receiving yards and 73 touchdowns in his career. Last season, he notched 69 catches for 838 yards and six touchdowns in his eighth NFL year, all with the Cowboys.

—New York Jets rookie quarterback Sam Darnold has a significant right foot injury and will miss Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills, according to a New York Daily News report.

The report, which called the injury a sprain, added the Jets hope Darnold will return after the Week 11 bye to face the New England Patriots in Week 12, but they are not overly optimistic. Head coach Todd Bowles told reporters the injury is a strain and deemed Darnold “day-to-day.”

—Defensive end Bruce Irvin landed on his feet and reunited with his former defensive coordinator one day after clearing waivers.

Irvin signed with the Atlanta Falcons, joining head coach Dan Quinn, who coordinated the Seahawks’ defense when both were in Seattle. Irvin cleared waivers and became an unrestricted free agent on Tuesday.

—Buffalo Bills first-round draft picks Josh Allen and linebacker Tremaine Edmunds each practiced, giving both a chance to return Sunday at the New York Jets.

Allen was limited again like he was on Friday, his first practice since spraining his right (throwing) elbow in Week 6 against the Houston Texans. Head coach Sean McDermott said the rookie quarterback has had no setbacks and “has done a good job so far.”

— Dallas Cowboys standout linebacker Sean Lee reportedly will be sidelined four to six weeks after injuring his left hamstring during Monday night’s loss to the Tennessee Titans.

“We anticipate him to be out for a little bit, no question about that,” Dallas coach Jason Garrett told reporters. Lee missed three games with a pulled hamstring earlier this season. The 32-year-old has 27 tackles in five games this season.

—Philadelphia running back Darren Sproles could be back on the field for the first time since Week 1 when the Eagles play the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night.

Sproles, who will retire after the season, had five carries for 10 yards and four catches for 22 yards in an 18-12 win over the Atlanta Falcons in Week 1 but has been sidelined by an injured hamstring since. Eagles coach Doug Pederson said that Sproles should be in the lineup Sunday night.

—Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill will miss his fifth straight game on Sunday at the Green Bay Packers, head coach Adam Gase confirmed.

With the Dolphins taking their bye in Week 11, Gase said the goal is to have Tannehill, who has battled weakness and discomfort in his right (throwing) shoulder, ready for a Week 12 trip to the Indianapolis Colts. Brock Osweiler will make his fifth consecutive start.

—Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette appears ready for a return after practicing in full for the first time in six weeks.

Slideshow (10 Images)

Fournette has not played since Week 4 because of a hamstring injury and has appeared in only two games this season, rushing for 71 yards on 20 carries.

—The Minnesota Vikings claimed running back Ameer Abdullah, two days after he was placed on waivers by the Detroit Lions.

Abdullah, 25, was a second-round pick by Detroit in 2015 but was active in only three games this season and carried the ball just once.

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