Shark Bites

ESPN's Adam Schefter confirms that Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell will report to the team before the start of the regular season. "Though it remains unclear exactly when," Schefter adds. This has been our expectation all along. Missing training camp isn't ideal, but Bell is a 4-year veteran who's returning to the same offense. He remains our pick at #2 overall across fantasy formats.

Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster returned to practice on Monday -- just a few days after sustaining a concussion in the preseason opener. The head injury is worth filing away, but Smith-Schuster's 2017 outlook is unaffected for now. He's battling for snaps behind Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant.

Steelers WR Martavis Bryant took part in practice Sunday for the 1st time in roughly 2 years. The NFL only just cleared him for preseason activities after conditionally reinstating the suspended WR. Per ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, Bryant said he has "a lot of work to do" to get back to his old form on the field but that he expects to be there before the regular season begins. Bryant also said he's confident the league will reinstate him fully by then and that in the meantime he'll "just handle my business, do what I'm supposed to do, maintain my sobriety."

Steelers HC Mike Tomlin announced after Friday's game that rookie WR JuJu Smith-Schuster suffered a concussion. The wideout left early in the opener against the Giants for evaluation and will now need to pass through the league's protocol before returning to the field.

Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster left Friday night's preseason game against the Giants in the 2nd quarter for a concussion evaluation. It's not yet clear whether the concussion was confirmed, but the rookie did not return to the game. We'll watch for further info.

Steelers WR Martavis Bryant has been cleared for "preseason activities," according to ESPN's Field Yates. That presumably means both preseason games and training-camp practices. Bryant still isn't fully reinstated, but he appears to be moving in that direction. We're still expecting him to be on the field for Week 1. And he has a little more than 4 weeks to be on the field with his teammates before kickoff.

Steelers RB James Conner (shoulder) returned to practice on Tuesday. He ended up missing a little over a week. Conner remains the favorite to win the backup job behind Le'Veon Bell, but the rookie needs to stay healthy the rest of the summer.

The NFL released a statement on Steelers WR Martavis Bryant's pending reinstatement on Friday. “Bryant may join the Steelers at the training facility and participate in meetings, conditioning work and similar activities,” the statement said. “Once arrangements have been confirmed regarding Bryant’s clinical resources in Pittsburgh, he will be permitted to participate in all preseason activities, including practices and games.” After that, Bryant's status will again be reviewed ahead of Week 1. “Prior to the start of the regular season, the NFL will review Bryant’s progress. Based on his compliance and engagement with his program and resources, he will be permitted to participate in all regular season activities beginning in Week 1. He will be evaluated later in the season for full reinstatement.” We're still expecting Bryant to be on the field for the start of the season, but he still has a couple of hurdles to cross. The missed practice time is also a concern for his early-season production. He remains a risk/reward pick at his 4th- or 5th-round price tag.

Steelers RB James Conner sprained the AC joint in his right shoulder Sunday, according to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler. HC Mike Tomlin called the issue minor and said that he only expects Conner to miss "days." That's good for a backfield already down the holding-out Le'Veon Bell. As long as Conner does return soon, he remains the handcuff favorite for Bell owners.

Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster missed most of the team's 1st training-camp practice Friday after suffering an apparently minor ankle injury on the 3rd play, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. Smith-Schuster returned with the ankle taped for a few reps at the end of practice, so we'll see whether the issue persists. His absence allowed Justin Hunter to get a lot of field time, with Martavis Bryant still working through reinstatement and Sammie Coates (knee) on the PUP list.

Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell did not report for the start of training camp, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported a couple of weeks ago that Bell might show up until "mid-to-late August" after failing to work out a long-term contract with the team. There's no reason to believe that he'll sit out regular-season games, but extended holdouts often leave players more susceptible to injury when they return. We'll see how long Bell's holdout lasts.

Steelers GM Kevin Colbert revealed Thursday that WR Martavis Bryant has yet to be fully reinstated by the league. "We have been informed by the NFL that Martavis is still in the process of being fully reinstated," Colbert said. "Until that time, Martavis will be permitted to take part in off-the-field team activities at training camp, but he will not be permitted to practice or play in any games.” There's no reason to believe Bryant won't eventually be reinstated, but as usual with the NFL, we don't have a concrete timeline for when that will happen. Out of the league all last year, Bryant can't afford to miss much practice time.

Steelers WR Sammie Coates had his knee scoped last week and will miss the start of training camp, according to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler. Coates "could" return in mid-August, per Fowler, but is also a candidate for the regular-season PUP list (which would cost him the first 6 games). This all follows an ugly 2016 campaign and February groin surgery. With the return of Martavis Bryant and the addition of JuJu Smith-Schuster, Coates isn't even a lock to make the Steelers' roster. He's off the redraft radar.

ESPN's Adam Schefter hears that Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell might not show up to training camp until "mid-to-late August." Bell was franchise-tagged this year but has not yet signed his tender, so he's not obligated to report. We always worry about players' conditioning during holdouts and their propensity to suffer conditioning-related injuries when they return. That'd be especially true for Bell, who has been hurt in all 4 of his NFL seasons. We'll see where this goes, but a holdout into late August would add risk to his 2017 fantasy outlook.

The deadline to extend franchise-tagged players passed Monday without a new contract for Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell. That means Bell will have to wait until after the 2017 season to talk any further contract with Pittsburgh. The situation shouldn't really mean anything for his fantasy football outlook. But it's at least worth noting for dynasty owners. Considering how far down the RB market has sunk the past couple of years and the Steelers' traditionally shrewd dealings, it's possible we could see Bell in a new uniform in 2018. That possibility adds a bit of long-term value to rookie RB James Conner.

Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell has recovered from his March groin surgery, according to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler. The procedure was relatively minor and never seemed likely to impact Bell's 2017 outlook. Fowler, by the way, adds that Pittsburgh doesn't view Bell as "brittle" and isn't expected to limit his workload this season. Bell averaged 21.75 carries and 7.83 targets per game last year on his way to a #1 finish in PPR points per game. Durability remains a concern, but he's neck and neck with David Johnson for the MVP of fantasy football when he's on the field.

The Steelers nabbed Tennessee QB Josh Dobbs in the 4th round of the NFL Draft. The aerospace engineering major (yeah — he’s a rocket scientist) completed 61.5% of his college passes with 53 TDs vs. 29 INTs. He’s a project as a passer. But he obviously has the smarts. And he’s a plus athlete, clocking a 4.64-second 40 time and earning an 88th percentile SPARQ score. Pittsburgh will try to develop Dobbs into Ben Roethlisberger’s successor.

The Steelers selected Pittsburgh RB James Conner in the 3rd round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Conner missed the 2015 season while battling Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but he conquered the illness to post 216-1092-16 in 2016. A high-character tackle breaker, Conner has a real shot to enter Week 1 as Pittsburgh’s #2 RB. For now, Le'Veon Bell is slated to play under the franchise tag, and his durability woes could open the door for Conner to see early-career touches.

The Steelers added USC WR JuJu Smith-Schuster with the 62nd pick of the 2017 NFL Draft. JuJu looked like a surefire 1st-round pick a year ago, coming off a big 89-1,454-10 line as an 18-year-old true sophomore. He wasn’t as productive this past year with a QB change from Cody Kessler to Sam Darnold. But he still led USC in catches, receiving yards and TDs — while posting similar market-share numbers as Chargers 1st-rounder Mike Williams. Smith-Schuster is a physical 6’1, 215-pounder. He won’t blow you away with athleticism (he posted a 65th percentile SPARQ score) but flashes a nice combination of ball tracking, body control and hands. He looks like a possession-type receiver at the next level — with upside considering he doesn’t turn 21 until November. Smith-Schuster joins a loaded Steelers offense alongside Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant. Capable of serving as a big slot receiver, JuJu could take Eli Rogers’ job. He’ll struggle for volume — at least in the short term — but could be uber-efficient with TD upside in a high-scoring offense.

The Steelers grabbed OLB T.J. Watt with the 30th pick in Round 1. Watt delivered just 1 year of big production at Wisconsin. But he followed that 11.5-sack season with a terrific Scouting Combine. Pittsburgh will have an interesting pass rush in 2017 between Watt and Bud Dupree. We'll see how quickly Watt can work toward a starting role.

 
 
 

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