That workload hinges on Bell's execution in this week's practices and in the film room.
Meanwhile, James Conner has established a role as the Pittsburgh Steelers' No. 2 back, ahead of Terrell Watson. In line with Tomlin's favorite "next man up" philosophy, Conner seems poised for at least moderate run at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Asked about his comfort level with Conner if Bell is limited and whether Conner can handle a significant workload, Tomlin said, "I'm comfortable."
Even on one week's prep, expect Bell to get a healthy dose of carries and receptions. Tomlin made a point to reference Bell's well-documented football savvy. He'll pick up the playbook. The bigger concern is ensuring Bell's football conditioning is adequate, reducing chances for hamstring pulls or football-specific injuries.
On his weekly radio show on 93.7 the Fan, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said Conner carried the ball often in Monday's practice and should be ready for at least some Week 1 reps. Roethlisberger also applauded Watson's power running game that won a roster spot in the final two preseason games, noting his ability to drive for extra yards.
Is a three-back game plan in the works? Not so fast. Bell will be the primary ball carrier. The question is how conservative the Steelers want to be.
"We’re trying to establish a baseline for what that workload is for 17 (weeks) and kind of adjust accordingly based on roles and what we're capable of," Tomlin said.