The Pittsburgh Steelers are inching closer to the expected return of star running back Le'Veon Bell, which has created more dialogue around the starting running back spot once he's back in the fold.

Despite that, Chris Mortensen of ESPN is reporting that second-year running back James Conner will continue to keep the starting role even with Bell being available.

Conner has performed quite well in Bell's absence as he's currently fifth with 403 rushing yards and second with seven rushing touchdowns along with 26 receptions for 257 receiving yards in the first six games played. He has notched three 100 rushing yard performance that has reached that mark in the last two games with four total touchdowns over that span.

The 23-year-old has quickly proven to be a highly reliable asset in the backfield that has brought to the table consistent production with his play picking up over the last two games. If he had been struggling to provide any stability to the running game, it would more likely have seen Bell be inserted back into the starting lineup upon his return. What may also be factoring into the equation is that he has held out for all offseason, training camp, preseason, and the first several weeks of the season.

This should quickly become an intriguing situation in the backfield as Bell will be aiming to recapture his starting job or it could possibly further complicate the entire matter in a couple of weeks. It may simply be the Steelers putting the 26-year-old in the spot of having to earn playing time. In the meantime, it allows for Conner to play without worrying about the starting job being taken from him and could give him the comfort to continue to play at a high level that he has helped the Steelers push things forward.