Ben Roethlisberger joked at the podium in Cincinnati that James Conner had gone out in style, given that Conner's 111-yard rushing effort against the Bengals was destined to be Conner's "last game for us because Le'Veon's coming back.
"I though he did well in his last one," Roethlisberger added regarding Conner.
The assembled media laughed out loud in unison.
But the Steelers have at least begun to contemplate what it might mean to have Conner and Le'Veon Bell available at running back, or in some capacity, in the aftermath of Sunday's 28-21 win at Paul Brown Stadium and all the postgame chuckles in the interview room.
Bell has yet to report, but reportedly intends to in advance of the Steelers' first game after this week's bye, on Oct. 28 against Cleveland.
Assuming Bell arrives at some point, and would eventually be in the type of shape he was in while earning first-team AP All-Pro honors in 2014 and 2017, the Steelers would have at their disposal:
—The player who finished third in the NFL in rushing (1,291 yards) and second in the NFL in yards from scrimmage (1,946) last season (Bell).
—And the player who ranks fifth in the NFL in rushing (453) and seventh in the NFL in yards from scrimmage (710) this season (Conner).
"We'll take every good player we can take, no doubt," offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner said today. "I'd take four if we could have them."
Guard David DeCastro has at least thought about the impact of having two running backs the caliber of Bell and Conner.
"I think it's a hard position to have one," DeCastro said. "Le'Veon has done a tremendous job being a workhorse, that's hard to do. It's impressive what he's done. But to have two guys in there that are always gong to be fresh and be able to pound on a defense, it's a good system to have.
"We'll see how it goes. I don't know, it's kind of new territory. It's great, obviously, to have two capable backs."
Bell has also been an option lining up in the slot or outside at a wide receiver-type position in the past.
"That's what coaches do, man, they find those mismatches," DeCastro said. "Obviously, Le'Veon's a huge mismatch against linebackers out in the slot in the passing game.
"Whatever it takes to win, I don't care how we do it."
Conner has done this season what Bell has done in previous seasons in the passing game and ranks third among Steelers in receptions (26) and fifth in receiving yards (257).
"He's been broken out of the formation and he's done it well when he has been," Fichtner said. "I don't know that there are any real limitations on James' game right now. He's been open to every position we've put him in and concepts, whether it's routes, concept-runs, protections. He's done a really nice job.
"He's been inside, outside, a lot of places. He adjusts pretty well to what we've asked him to do."
Offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert talked called Bell "a special player," and contrasted Bell and Conner as "different style running backs.
"I think they'll both complement each other really well," Gilbert said.
Bell has to show up before any of that can happen.
"It would be exciting but it's something we haven't really talked about," Fichtner said. "We'd have to just see where it's at when he gets back."
The Steelers prepare for the week 8 matchup against the Cleveland Browns.