At the beginning of March, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell announced on social media that he’s been cleared to begin running again after suffering a season-ending right knee injury that suffered midway through the 2015 season. On Monday at the league’s annual meetings in Boca Raton, Florida, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert was asked by ESPN reporters during an interview to update the status of Bell’s rehab and more importantly, if he’d be ready to play come the start of the 2016 regular season
“He’s right on schedule with the rehab and when I say on schedule, we think he’ll be available to us in 2016, early,” said Colbert of Bell. “Now, we never put a deadline on it because we always tell the player, ‘Look, you’re ready when you’re ready. When the docs say you’re ready, when your body tells you you’re ready, when you say you’re ready.’
“So were not going to put an artificial deadline on it, but so far the rehab is continuing and he’s taking the necessary steps to get back as soon as possible.”
Being as April 1st will mark exactly five months since Bell suffered his knee injury when tackled along the Steelers sideline by Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict, it’s easy to speculate that he’ll remain sidelined during the team’s OTA practices and mandatory minicamp. In all likelihood, Bell will also start this year’s training camp on the team’s Active PUP list as he’ll still be less than 8 full months removed from his original injury date.
The Steelers are certainly hoping that Bell will be ready to play come the start of the 2016 regular season in September. If he’s not ready to play by then, veteran running back DeAngelo Williams would more than likely start in Bell’s place until he’s fully cleared to play.
At the very worst, Bell could start the regular season on the Steelers Reserve/PUP list and that would result in him missing the first six weeks. For that to happen, however, one would have to think that Bell had some sort of setback in his recovery between now and the end of the preseason.
Bell is entering the final year of his rookie contract in 2016 after being drafted by the Steelers in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft out of Michigan State. He has registered 4,166 total yards from scrimmage and 22 total touchdowns during his first three years in the league.