PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown isn’t worried about hard feelings lingering whenever running back Le’Veon Bell decides to show up.
Brown defended Bell on Friday after several teammates expressed frustration that the All-Pro has yet to sign his franchise tender and rejoin the club, meaning he will be out of the lineup on Sunday when the defending AFC North champions open the season in Cleveland.
“No one wins when the family feuds,” Brown said. “At the end of the day, we’re a family. If he’s here or he’s not, we want the best for him. That’s what it’s all about. It’s not about pointing fingers and fighting amongst each other. We’re a core group that should respect and love each other regardless of the situation.”
Brown posted a picture on Instagram on Thursday of him and Bell celebrating a touchdown. The All-Pro receiver added the caption “we all we got, we all we need, ready to roll whenever you get back with us.”
Brown insisted he’s ready to roll too after skipping all four preseason games in part because of a quadriceps injury. He is 90 yards away from becoming the fifth active player with 10,000 career yards receiving and is coming off his NFL-record fifth straight season of at least 100 receptions.
“Obviously, it’s been a rough preseason for me but I’m excited to get out there and show the world what I’m capable of,” Brown said.
The Steelers will start second-year back James Conner in Bell’s place. Brown isn’t too concerned about Bell’s absence or the debut of offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner, who took over in January.
“As long as we got (quarterback Ben Roethlisberger) and the (offensive) line we’ve got a better chance to win I think,” Brown said.
NOTES: The Steelers ruled TE Vance McDonald (foot) out for the opener. … Rookie S Terrell Edmunds is expected to start. The first-round pick played well during the preseason while veteran Morgan Burnett dealt with injuries. Burnett is expected to play in sub packages.
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