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Steelers notebook: CB Joe Haden on recovery from broken leg: 'It's getting there'

Joe Rutter
| Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017, 4:24 p.m.

A month after fracturing his fibula, Steelers cornerback Joe Haden returned to the practice field Wednesday, although like most of his teammates, he did little practicing.

Haden's return to on-field activity came in what he described as a walkthrough more than an actual practice as the Steelers conducted a light workout in their first session ahead of the game Sunday against the New England Patriots.

On the official practice report, Haden's participation was listed as limited.

“It's getting there,” Haden said. “We'll tell more tomorrow.”

The Steelers will ramp up activities Thursday in preparation for the biggest game in the NFL this season. Haden doesn't know whether he will be a part of it Sunday.

“We'll have a couple of (practices), so it might be all the way up until the game,” Haden said about his availability.

Haden was injured Nov. 12 at Indianapolis and spent the past four weeks in recovery. He was cleared to run on the indoor practice field Monday and repeated that workout Tuesday.

“It was backpedaling and cutting,” he said. “(Thursday), I'll be able to tell more going through individual and team drills to see how my leg holds up.”

Asked how Haden's leg felt Wednesday after the workout, he said, “It's a little sore, but we'll figure it out.”

Bell not wearing down

The game against the Patriots is a reminder to Le'Veon Bell about what happened to him in the AFC championship game.

Bell was injured early in the game and left in the second quarter of the Steelers' 36-17 loss. He played only 11 snaps and had six carries for 20 yards.

“It was a terrible feeling just having to watch my guys go to work,” Bell said. “Honestly, when I come out of the game now for a possession or two when they're resting me, I'm like that.”

Bell has played 91.4 percent of all offensive snaps this year, and he leads the NFL with 358 touches, 71 more than the second-most used player, Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley. Bell is on pace for 440 touches, which would rank 10th in NFL history.

“I know they are looking out for my best interests (when I come out), but at the same time I don't like my guys going to work without me,” Bell said. “I feel like I always have to be a part. I'm glad I'm healthy right now. I'm going to do everything I can for this game. This time, I'm fully healthy. We'll see what happens.”

Bell leads the NFL in rushing yards (1,105) and scrimmage yards (1,684).

JuJu: Hit was ‘good'

JuJu Smith-Schuster was back in the locker room, his one-game suspension for his block on Cincinnati's Vontaze Burfict served during Sunday night's Steelers win against Baltimore.

And while the 21-year-old rookie was apologetic for the taunting aspect of the hit, Smith-Schuster vowed “I felt like it was a good (legal) hit.”

Smith-Schuster also said the suspension would not cause him to change his game.

“Oh, I am still playing physical,” he said. “That's going to be a part of my game. That's who I have always been since I was a kid.

“I am still going to make those blocks, you know? Yes, I am going to be more careful; I'm going to aim for the shoulder and lower, just to be more protective of the game.”

Injury report

Four players did not practice: wide receiver Martavis Bryant (not injury related), defensive end Stephon Tuitt (illness), cornerback Coty Sensabaugh (shoulder) and tight end Vance McDonald (shoulder).

Linebacker Tyler Matakevich, who did not practice last week or play against the Baltimore Ravens because of a shoulder injury, was limited.

Staff writer Chris Adamski contributed. Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jrutter@tribweb.com or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.

The Colts' Chester Rogers tries to elude Steelers safety Sean Davis, as cornerback Joe Haden lays on the ground after breaking his leg during the first quarter Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
The Colts' Chester Rogers tries to elude Steelers safety Sean Davis, as cornerback Joe Haden lays on the ground after breaking his leg during the first quarter Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Steelers cornerback Joe Haden holds his leg after suffering a broken fibula during the first quarter Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Steelers cornerback Joe Haden holds his leg after suffering a broken fibula during the first quarter Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Steelers cornerback Joe Haden intercepts a pass over the Bengals' A.J. Green during the third quarter Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017, at Heinz Field.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Steelers cornerback Joe Haden intercepts a pass over the Bengals' A.J. Green during the third quarter Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017, at Heinz Field.
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