2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Foot healed, Steelers RB Bell ready to get going

By WILL GRAVES - AP Sports Writer
    2013-09-25 16:36

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Le'Veon Bell believes he's a quick healer. Of course, he'd like to stop having to prove it.

The rookie running back will make his long awaited debut Sunday when the Pittsburgh Steelers travel to London to face the Minnesota Vikings. Bell hasn't played since spraining his right foot two carries into a preseason game against Washington last month.

Originally told he would be out eight weeks, Bell plans to be ready in six. He practiced on Wednesday and barring a late setback will be available as the Steelers try to avoid their first 0-4 start since 1986. While Pittsburgh's problems go far deeper than the running game - which happens to be 31st in the league - his teammates are anxious to get a look at the second-round pick on the field instead of on the sideline in street clothes.

``I'm just excited to see what he can do because nobody knows,'' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. ``Nobody's seen him in game action.''

Bell was one of the most durable players in the nation during his sophomore and junior seasons at Michigan State. He touched the ball 414 times in 2012 without so much as an ingrown nail. In the span of his first three weeks in Pittsburgh, he sprained his knee, then followed it up by jamming his foot on the second play from scrimmage against the Redskins.

Doctors cleared him for contact last week. Too ``rusty'' to play in last week's loss to Chicago, Bell will try to do what he can to help turn things around.

``When I get the ball in my hands, I want to make positive plays and do what I can with it to give my teammates and coaches confidence in me,'' Bell said.

The Steelers were confident enough in Bell to let Rashard Mendenhall walk in free agency and make Bell the 48th overall pick in the draft. At 6-foot-2, Bell is tall for a running back, though it's hard to tell sometimes because of Bell's churning running style. He made a habit of hurdling defenders at Michigan State and has trimmed down to 230 pounds over the last few months to help him hit the hole a fraction of a second faster.

If anything, Bell will at least put an end to the committee approach that hasn't really worked. Given ample opportunity to make a case to be the starter the trio of Isaac Redman, Felix Jones and Jonathan Dwyer failed to distinguish themselves. Dwyer showed a burst with a 25-yard sprint against the Bears, but his conditioning remains an issue and he's a non-factor in the passing game.

That's where Bell may have his biggest advantage. He caught 32 passes for the Spartans last fall, and a few well-designed screens against the Vikings may help take some of the pressure off an offensive line that at times has looked overmatched without Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey, who is out for the season with a knee injury.

``We wouldn't have brought (Bell) here if he wasn't an all-around back,'' Roethlisberger said. ``He's more than just a guy that is going to run the ball.''

Forced off the field for the first time in his career, Bell immersed himself in the playbook.

``Even when I wasn't playing, I knew everything,'' Bell said. ``The switches that we do week-to-week, I picked that up quick pretty quick.''

All of which is nice, but Bell understands it's time for him to stay in the game. His role may be limited as he works his way back but when he's out there, he knows he has to prove he can withstand the pounding he's sure to receive against a team that - much like the Steelers - is looking to break out of an early season funk.

``This is my chance to show these guys what I'm all about,'' Bell said.

Asked if maybe he's fibbing a bit about his progress because of the pressure he feels to return and Bell just shakes his head.

``I don't feel like I'm rushing it at all,'' he said. ``At the end of the day, I know that I have a long career (ahead), but I feel like I'm ready now. And I'm ready to help this team win games. (And) my foot hasn't shown any signs of setbacks, so it feels like it's ready, and I know I'm ready to go.''

--

NOTES: DE Brett Keisel (hamstring) did not practice on Wednesday. CB Cortez Allen (ankle) and NT Steve McLendon (hamstring) did practice and are expected to play against the Vikings ... G Ramon Foster had a meeting with Steelers coach Mike Tomlin earlier this week for pointers on how to be a better leader with Pouncey not available. ``You don't want to be a leader in this sport and in this group and talk down to guys,'' Foster said. ``You've got to be able to coach and motivate guys, and I went to him to get some advice about that.''

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

---

Follow Will Graves at www.twitter.com/WillGravesAP

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Miles AustinMar 30 11:42a

Free-agent WR Miles Austin (Browns) will likely sign with the Philadelphia Eagles this week if all goes well with his physical, according to a source.

R. Griffin IIIMar 29 07:42p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III will be the first-team quarterback during offseason workouts, according to head Jay Gruden, but Gruden also said he expects QB Kirk Cousins and [ More ]

Stevan RidleyMar 29 10:12a

Free-agent RB Stevan Ridley (knee) is scheduled to meet with a few teams this week. Ridley is expected to receive full medical clearance in around six weeks.

Andre EllingtonMar 27 07:52p

Arizona Cardinals RB Andre Ellington, who averaged 20.6 touches per game in 2014 before being injured, won't have his role reduced in 2015, according to head coach Bruce Arians. [ More ]

C.J. AndersonMar 27 07:32p

Denver Broncos RB C.J. Anderson, who finished 2014 with 648 rushing yards in the last six games, will enter the 2015 season at the top of the running back [ More ]

Jonathan MartinMar 27 04:32p

San Francisco 49ers OT Jonathan Martin was claimed off waivers by the Carolina Panthers Friday, March 27.

Alan BallMar 27 03:02p

Free-agent CB Alan Ball (Jaguars) signed a one-year deal with the Chicago Bears Friday, March 27. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Jarrett BoykinMar 27 02:12p

Free-agent WR Jarrett Boykin (Packers) signed a one-year deal with the Carolina Panthers Friday, March 27. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Nick FolesMar 27 01:22p

St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said it's the team's intention to draft a quarterback in this year's draft, despite trading for QB Nick Foles in the offseason. [ More ]

Dont'a HightowerMar 26 08:02p

New England Patriots LB Dont'a Hightower (shoulder) will miss six to seven months after undergoing surgery on a torn right labrum. Hightower's availability for the beginning of the regular [ More ]

Brian QuickMar 26 06:52p

St. Louis Rams WR Brian Quick (shoulder) is making progress in recovering from a torn rotator cuff and separated shoulder he suffered last October. Head coach Jeff Fisher has [ More ]

Jay CutlerMar 26 06:32p

Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler will head into the offseason as the team's No. 1 quarterback on the depth chart, but head coach John Fox said there will be [ More ]

Danny LansanahMar 26 05:42p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers LB Danny Lansanah signed his one-year tender Thursday, March 26.

Jonathan MartinMar 26 04:52p

San Francisco 49ers OT Jonathan Martin was waived Thursday, March 26.

Pat SimsMar 26 04:22p

Free-agent DT Pat Sims (Raiders) signed an undisclosed deal with the Cincinnati Bengals Thursday, March 26.

Victor CruzMar 26 01:32p

New York Giants WR Victor Cruz (knee) 'looks really good and light,' according to head coach Tom Coughlin. Cruz started running last week six months after he tore the [ More ]

D. Heyward-BeyMar 26 11:52a

Free-agent WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (Steelers) re-signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers Wednesday, March 26. Heyward-Bey signed a one-year deal with the team, but financial terms were not disclosed.

Paul RichardsonMar 26 12:43a

Seattle Seahawks WR Paul Richardson (knee) might not be ready for the start of the season, head coach Pete Carroll indicated Wednesday, March 25. Carroll did say Richardson's rehab [ More ]

Blake BortlesMar 25 08:43p

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles received an endorsement from head coach Gus Bradley Tuesday, March 24. Speaking at the AFC Coaches Breakfast at the NFL Annual Meetings Tuesday, Bradley [ More ]

Travis KelceMar 25 06:03p

Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce played at roughly 250 pounds in 2014, but head coach Andy Reid wants Kelce to report bigger in 2015, and Reid thinks Kelce [ More ]

Drew BreesMar 25 05:03p

Oregon QB Marcus Mariota isn't an option for the New Orleans Saints in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, according to head coach Sean Payton. Payton said [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMar 25 04:33p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is wanted back in Minnesota, but the question is if Peterson wants to come back. Head coach Mike Zimmer said he doesn't believe Peterson [ More ]

Ifeanyi MomahMar 25 03:13p

Free-agent TE Ifeanyi Momah (Lions) signed a one-year contract with the Arizona Cardinals Wednesday, March 25. Financial terms were undisclosed.

Terence NewmanMar 25 01:53p

Free-agent CB Terence Newman (Bengals) agreed to a one-year deal with the Minnesota Vikings Wednesday, March 25, according to a source. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Jordy NelsonMar 25 12:23p

Green Bay Packers WR Jordy Nelson (hip) underwent hip surgery this offseason and is expected to be sidelined for six to eight weeks.

Victor CruzMar 25 11:53a

New York Giants WR Victor Cruz (knee) could miss the start of the 2015 season with a torn patellar tendon in his knee, according to head coach Tom Coughlin. [ More ]

Josh HillMar 25 11:03a

New Orleans Saints TE Josh Hill is expected to have a bigger role in the offense in 2015. Head coach Sean Payton has mentioned him quite a bit since [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMar 25 10:53a

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is disgruntled and reportedly wants out of Minnesota, but head coach Mike Zimmer said the team has no plans to trade him.

Cody LatimerMar 24 09:33p

The Denver Broncos plan to use WR Cody Latimer as the third receiver behind WRs Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders in 2015. 'I think it's time for him to [ More ]

Casey MatthewsMar 24 06:32p

Free-agent LB Casey Matthews (Eagles) agreed to terms with the Minnesota Vikings Tuesday, March 24. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

R. Griffin IIIMar 24 04:42p

Washington Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan said that the team will go with the best player available in the 2015 NFL Draft with the No. 5 overall pick, which [ More ]

Michael CrabtreeMar 24 03:02p

Free-agent WR Michael Crabtree (49ers) is having a hard time being signed this offseason, reportedly due to concerns regarding lower-leg injuries and a negative perception about his attitude.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group