It’s easy to forget where Le’Veon Bell was a year ago. Barely more than a month removed from a severe knee injury, tearing his MCL and PCL in early November against the Cincinnati Bengals, the team Bell will face for the first time this weekend.
Now, he’s thrown himself into a potential MVP conversation and reestablished as the league’s unquestioned best running back. After months of rigorous rehab, Bell told Steelers.com’s Missi Matthews he feels even better now than he did pre-injury.
“I think so,” he told Matthews. “I think I’m a better player than I was last year. I know a lot more. I’m more experienced. I think my legs are stronger. I think I’m strong physically just because of what I had to go through.”
Not just physically tougher though. Mentally, he’s in a better place, to come out the other side of a grueling process.
“Mentally too, the things I had to go through. So I think I’m a better player this year.”
Bell said this was the worst injury he’s ever dealt with and the first surgery of his football career. But Bell recovered as quickly as you could hope for, being ready for camp and if you had the chance to see him in Latrobe, looking like his normal self.
I still remember what I wrote about him on the first day of camp this year.
“Inside zone to the right. Classic Bell play. Waits…waits…waits…explodes. He darts into the second level in an instant and, perhaps testing himself, weaves left and right versus Shamarko Thomas for a good 20 yards. Bell sure looked like his old self, no ill effects of his injury.”
Now, he’s on pace to have a record year on a per-game basis and could break the franchise record – and his career high – of 83 receptions in a season while be an instrumental part of the Steelers’ potent offense.