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Steelers notebook: Bell up to speed, ready for Jets

| Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, 8:51 p.m.

Running back Le'Veon Bell said his right midfoot sprain that kept him out of three games did not flare up during the bye week. He reported one brief instance of discomfort during the Sept. 29 game against Minnesota.

“Even after the game, it felt good,” Bell said Monday. “It felt a little sore, but it still felt good.”

Bell's two-touchdown performance in his NFL debut impressed many of his teammates — enough for them to think he can be a difference maker the rest of the season.

“He looked impressive, and I'm glad to see that spark come out of him,” offensive lineman Ramon Foster said. “I definitely feel he can be a key to our offense ... a very special back.”

• Safety Ryan Clark said the Steelers veterans weren't punishing those with less than four years' experience by recently taking away their locker room gaming privileges. Rather, he said, it was that the veterans wanting them to earn the right to take part.

“It wasn't about sending a message. It was about the guys who earned those things — and they were earned,” Clark said. “They (the younger players) came into this atmosphere like we've always had them, but we didn't. We got the shuffleboard game because we had one at the hotel at the Super Bowl in 2010. The pool table came from the Super Bowl in 2008.

“We earned it and enjoyed it. That was the only point behind that.”

Clark said the Steelers need Ben Roethlisberger to “tone down” his tendency to improvise on numerous plays, at least for the time being. “Sometimes you have to protect Ben against Ben,” Clark said during a weekend ESPN appearance. “We have to say, 'Hey, right now we're not a good enough football team for you to try to extend plays, for us to take sacks, for us to have turnovers.'”

• The Steelers also received a draft pick when they acquired left tackle Levi Brown last week from the Cardinals. According to the NFL's transactions list, the Steelers obtained Brown and an unspecified draft pick from Arizona for an unspecified draft pick — one that's expected to be in a lower round.

Ramon Foster (strained pectoral muscle) still isn't sure if he can play against the Jets. “Hopefully, there wasn't a tear,” he said. “It's just pain tolerance. We'll have to wait and see how it is by Sunday.”

• During the bye week, Foster returned home to alma mater Ripley High School in Tennessee to have his number retired. But when he arrived, he found No. 77 being worn by lineman Robert Pearson.

“I almost wanted to snatch it off the kid's back,” Foster said, laughing. Because Pearson already was given the number, Foster agreed he should be allowed to wear it the rest of the season.

“I didn't want to be a bad guy about it,” Foster said.

• Rookie wide receiver Markus Wheaton's broken right pinkie finger will keep him out of the Jets' game. He can't resume practicing until stitches are removed from the finger, and that won't happen until Monday at the earliest. Wheaton is wearing a protective cast on his entire hand.

• The Steelers practiced Monday, normally a day away from the practice field, because they were coming off their bye week. Afterward, they held a half hour meeting to review their 401k retirement plan.

• Bell, like numerous other Steelers players, planned to watch the Sunday opponent Jets play Atlanta on Monday night. “I just like to watch football in general, but maybe you can pick up some little thing that they may do, give away their strategy a little bit,” Bell said.

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