Steelers notebook: Rookie RB Bell sits with knee soreness
Mike Tomlin wanted to see rookie running back Le'Veon Bell perform with the first team during Saturday's first preseason game.
But the Steelers' coach would rather see Bell healthy.
Tomlin unexpectedly scratched Bell from the lineup because of a sore knee that has been bothering Bell for the past week. Isaac Redman got the start, and LaRod Stephens-Howling carried the bulk of the first-team load.
“Going into the game, it was my decision not to play Le'Veon Bell,” Tomlin said. “He worked at a limited capacity last week. I watched in our practice in preparation for our game Friday morning and didn't see enough for me to be comfortable enough to start his career in less than ideal circumstances from a health standpoint.”
Tomlin said that Bell will practice when the Steelers return to Latrobe on Monday.
“I was just resting to make sure I do not come into the game and hurt it any more than it already was,” Bell said.
Reduced zone blocking
So much for the Steelers seeing how far their new zone-blocking scheme has come during two weeks of training camp.
With the first team in the game, the Steelers used zone blocking on only three of their 10 running plays, with one coming back because of a holding penalty.
They gained 11 yards on two runs — six by Redman on the first play of the game and five by Stephens-Howling. The Steelers used their power scheme seven times with the first team.
Altogether in the first half, the Steelers ran the zone five times for 15 yards and the power scheme 11 times for 57 yards. There was one scramble.
Spaeth out indefinitely
Tight end Matt Spaeth had surgery Saturday after being diagnosed with a Lisfranc (midfoot) injury and is out indefinitely.
“When you talk about potential timetables of his return, I haven't been privy to that over that last 24 hours,” Tomlin said.
Spaeth could be a candidate for the new injured reserve rule set in place last year, which would allow one player who suffered a serious training camp injury to be placed on injured reserve/designated to return following the final cut.
New TE gets start
Tight end Michael Palmer started Saturday against the Giants, one day after the Steelers signed him partly because backup Jamie McCoy was held out of the game because of a sore right wrist. The Steelers started that game with a two tight-end set with David Paulson and Palmer.
The Steelers are thin at tight end; McCoy, Spaeth, Paulson, David Johnson and Heath Miller are out with injuries.
LB Sylvester hurt
Linebacker Stevenson Sylvester left the game with an ankle injury and did not return. He was hurt during a first-quarter punt when he and teammate Markus Wheaton collided.
Not dressing for the Steelers were Bell (knee), McCoy (undisclosed), Spaeth (foot), Plaxico Burress (shoulder), Curtis Brown (ankle), Terry Hawthorne (knee), Ross Ventrone (unknown), DeMarcus Van Dyke (hamstring) and Cortez Allen (knee).
Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib.
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