The Pittsburgh Steelers are bracing for the possibility of facing the first quarter of the 2016 regular season without the services of All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell—or perhaps not, if a recent report that surfaced last night is to be believed. But either way, the team must be quite pleased to see that whenever he is available, is appears he will be ready to suit up.
Bell, of course, suffered a significant knee injury halfway through the 2015 season, which saw him tear both his MCL and PCL, and he has since undergone intensive rehab in order to prepare for suiting up for the first game of the season, but whether or not he would be able to do so seemed to be in some question.
With every cut and dash that he makes on the practice fields of Latrobe, however, it seems all the more difficult to believe that he wouldn’t be ready to take the field tomorrow if there were a game to be played. It may well be that the teams holds him out of most, if not all preseason action, simply as a precaution, but based on the way he has looked, according to reports, he certainly seems able to play.
The fourth-year back has had an unfortunate injury history in his young career, though the knee injury last year was by far the most serious. He also suffered a knee injury that ended his 2014 season, in the regular season finale, though that was of lesser severity. A foot injury during his rookie season limited him in training camp and caused him to miss the first three games of the season.
He doesn’t look as though he is about to sit out any snap that matters, however, so the question we turn to now may well be whether those snaps come in 12 games or 16—or perhaps somewhere in between, as the appeal process of his four-game suspension goes through its course over the next two weeks or so.
Should he indeed be suspended, the Steelers will have to shoulder the load without him, as they did last year during a two-game suspension to start the season, and they did so placing the burden on the able and seemingly ageless shoulders of DeAngelo Williams, who proved at 32 even to still be a highly capable starter.
Lacking the services of an elite talent such as Bell for four games, however, is no easy pill to swallow, and obviously decreases the team’s chances of winning in the games that he misses. Every time he is on the field, he makes the team better, because his abilities are unique, as good as Wiliams has been.
But the prime motivation has to be to see Bell take the field for a postseason game. He has missed each of the past two playoffs due to injury. If they can have him in January and February, it would be a fair trade to miss him in September.