One of the biggest stories of the NFL offseason that has rolled into the regular season is that of Le'Veon Bell at the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The running back's holdout over contract disputes has been ongoing for months now, as he wants a longer and more lucrative deal than the franchise tag offer the Steelers have put on the table.
However, it certainly didn't affect how the team performed on the ground in Week 1 against the Cleveland Browns.
Bell's replacement, James Conner, rushed for 135 yards and two touchdowns to go with 57 receiving yards on five catches for Pittsburgh in the contest vs Browns which ended in a rare tie.
Although this is only one week, history has shown us that the Steelers are able to survive just fine without the dynamic running back on the field. In fact, they actually perform better.
A graphic from Fox Sports 1’s The Herd with Colin Cowherd revealed some of the key stats the Steelers have rocked up with and without Bell on the field.
As you can see in the graphic below, from the 15 games which Bell hasn't played for the Steelers since 2015, they've only lost four of them, and they have a higher points per game average.
Pittsburgh has also been able to achieve more yards per game, more passing yards per game, as well as a higher third down conversion percentage without their star running back on the field.
10 of the 15 games which Bell has missed came in the 2015 season when DeAngelo Williams filled in for him. He missed three games that year for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, and the other seven after suffering a torn MCL which was season-ending.
In his absence, Williams rushed for 907 yards and 11 touchdowns, and the Steelers were able to finish the year with a 10-6 record and reach the divisional round of the playoffs.
If the performance of Conner in Week 1 is anything to go by, he and Pittsburgh should be able to meet or even surpass the performance of Williams and the 2015 Steelers if Bell continues his absence.
Bell isn't expected to report to the Steelers before their Week 2 contest against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Many expect him to sit out until the Tuesday following Week 10, which is the deadline for him to play for the remainder of the season. If he doesn't sign by that date, the Steelers would have the right to franchise tag him again next year as if they were tagging him for the second time.
However, if Bell signs his current tag at any time prior to the date mentioned, Pittsburgh would have to either tag him a third time at a hefty price tag next offseason or let him hit free agency.