Steelers' Bell doesn't need surgery on foot
Le'Veon Bell's final training camp summary: four carries, three injuries, one big scare, zero surgeries.
Bell, the Steelers' projected opening-day running back, is hobbling on crutches, his sprained right foot encased in a boot. About all the exercising he can do is walking and picking up marbles with his toes.
Still, Bell and the Steelers are encouraged by the prognosis from two medical teams that he won't need surgery and that his recovery is expected to come sooner than later. By contrast, tight end Matt Spaeth's Lisfranc injury required surgery to repair a tear.
Neither Bell nor the Steelers are projecting when he will return, but Bell hinted it won't be long.
“I feel like if my foot even gets close for me being able to play on it, I'm going to try to play on it,” Bell said Thursday.
This isn't the way a running back known for durability at Michigan State expected to begin his career: a bruised knee and sprained foot within two weeks of each other. But Bell plans to make the best of a situation that could be worse, although he said he is a frustrated at spending so much of his first preseason in the trainers' room.
“It's something I'm going to have to fight through,” Bell said. “Everything happens for a reason. I don't question the reason why I got hurt or the reason why I have to go through this. I'm going to take it and run with it and, when I get back on the field, I'm going to do what I can.”
Immediately after Bell was injured on his fourth and final carry Monday night against Washington, the Steelers were fearful he might be out for an extended period — if only because mid-foot injuries often require surgery and a lengthy rehabilitation.
“I can walk on it and put pressure on my foot now. When I first hurt it and I came to the sideline and took my shoe off, I couldn't put any pressure on it,” Bell said. “Now I can walk on it, move it, move all my toes, and the swelling went down.”
What the Steelers most wanted to hear is that Bell won't need surgery.
“That is encouraging news,” coach Mike Tomlin said. “It's great to hear that it is what it is, a mid-foot sprain and that it's perking up day by day. … The next time I get with the doctors, coming out of this next football game (Saturday against Kansas City), I'll get more information regarding where he is.”
Bell, the second running back taken in the NFL Draft in April, is aware he can't rush back; doing so might cause long-term damage.
For now, he is being listed as week to week, although it appears unlikely — such an injury puts considerable stress on the foot — he could be ready for the Sept. 8 opener against Tennessee.
“I know it's a long season, and I want to come back to where I can actually be able to play and not have to think about my foot,” Bell said. “I want to make sure everything is comfortable so I can go out there and actually play like I want to play and not have to think about my foot. I don't want to go out there and play injured and have the injury come back or get worse.”
Despite the multiple injuries, Tomlin said there is no worry that Bell — who carried 382 times at Michigan State last season — will be injury-prone as a pro.
“If you play football, you get hurt,” he said. “It's part of it.”
“It gets frustrating at times,” Bell said. “But I'm fighting through it and getting healthy as quickly as possible.”
Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.
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