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Steelers

Steelers' Bell feeling better, but status for Saturday's game unknown

| Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2014, 6:18 p.m.
Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell is knocked to the grass by Bengals defender Reggie Nelson during the third quarter Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014, at Heinz Field.
Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell is knocked to the grass by Bengals defender Reggie Nelson during the third quarter Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014, at Heinz Field.

Le'Veon Bell barely could walk Monday.

On Tuesday, walking was easier, but there was a noticeable limp.

By Wednesday, his gait was normal and the limp was gone.

At this rate, Bell's sore knee might not be a concern Saturday when the Steelers host the Baltimore Ravens in an AFC wild-card game.

“I am feeling good,” Bell said. “I wasn't expecting to feel this well this early, but I am so I am going to take it day-by-day and see where it goes. Walking around, I feel good. A couple of days ago, I couldn't do this. It feels good to be able to move around and not think about it very much.”

Bell has made progress since hyperextending his right knee midway through the third quarter against the Bengals but not enough to ensure he will take part in his first playoff game Saturday.

Bell rode a stationary bike for the second day in a row Wednesday. He added some light running and made some cut-like moves while watching practice.

Bell plans to test the knee Thursday to get a better feel if playing Saturday is an option.

“I know if I had to practice today that I couldn't practice,” Bell said. “I don't want to put a percentage on it because I don't know the percentage. When I feel good enough, I am going to play. If I feel ready, I am definitely going to try to get on the field and play. It's a huge game.”

Bell is in the midst of a breakout season. He finished the regular season with 2,215 total yards — 1,361 rushing, 854 receiving — to finish second to Dallas' DeMarco Murray for the NFL lead.

That all was an afterthought when he was on the turf at Heinz Field clutching his knee after what he called a legal hit by Bengals safety Reggie Nelson.

“When it happened, so many thoughts went into my head because I know how I felt at the time,” Bell said. “It was scary. I was scarier than anything else.”

The Steelers were so unsure of his availability this week that they signed Ben Tate, who was released twice in a month, on Tuesday.

Tate will partner with rookies Dri Archer and Josh Harris.

Bell said he has full confidence in Harris, who would get the start if Bell can't play.

“I am not going to rush it,” Bell said. “I don't want to play fearing my knee getting hurt. I want to be comfortable and not thinking about cutting or jumping. It is not something that can get worse if you do play so that's a good thing.”

Even if Bell plays, the Steelers would monitor his snap count, which has soared to 97 percent since taking over the job on a full-time basis in early November. Playing situationally could be an option for Bell.

“I leave that up to the coaches,” Bell said.

Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at mkaboly@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib.

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