PITTSBURGH — Le’Veon Bell has returned to work and the Pittsburgh Steelers running back insists he is feeling no effects from missing the first three weeks of the season while serving a suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
As part of the suspension, Bell was not allowed to work out at the Steelers’ facility or have any contact with the coaches or his teammates. However, he said he stayed active while being away from the team.
“I have been working out individually, getting stronger, catching the football, cutting, rehabbing my knee, lifting, and little things like that,” Bell said. “I know I will be ready.”
Bell will find out if that is indeed the case Sunday night when the Steelers host the Kansas City Chiefs at Heinz Field.
“I just want to go out there and do what I do,” Bell said. “I want to make sure I do all of my assignments, take care of everything, make plays and win the game.”
Bell has experience at serving suspensions. He also missed the first two games of last season because he violated the drug policy.
However, Bell wound up playing just six games last year before suffering a season-ending knee injury in Week 8 in a loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Though Bell saw action in the Steelers’ third preseason game, Sunday will mark for his first action in a game that counts since Nov. 1 and he admits he will need to get re-acclimated.
“The whole game tempo, making sure I am aware of third down situations, if it is second-and 1 make sure I get the first down,” Bell said. “I am still going to have to get adjusted to the game. Getting hit for a whole game. It will take some adjustments but I am ready for it, ready to move forward. It might take this whole week to get adjusted, but I will be ready when the game comes around.”
Bell has proven to be a force when healthy. He was an All-Pro in 2014 during his second season, rushing for 1,361 yards and catching 83 passes for 854 yards while scoring 11 touchdowns.
Bell believes he is ready to build upon the success of two years ago.
“I am a better player now,” Bell said. “I want to keep moving forward. I am a lot smarter. I look back on my second-year film and think what was I doing on this play or that play? It’s just growth.”
The 24-year-old also believes he has matured since that big season.
“Not just on the field, but off the field, being a better person with my family, teammates, everybody involved in my life,” Bell said “I am not a perfect person, I never will be and am not going to try to be. There are things I can get better at and I am going to shoot to get better at.”
DeAngelo Williams has ably filled in for Bell, rushing for 258 yards while notching 14 receptions for 89 yards. There have been some suggestions that the Steelers might go to a two-back system where either Bell and Williams could be on the field at the same time or Williams might get more carries than last season — he logged just 15 in the first five games after Bell was reinstated.
Bell says would be OK with giving some of the rushing load to Williams, particularly after also having a knee operation at the end of the 2014 season.
“There is always enough room,” he said. “I am going to let the coaches put us in situations. DeAngelo and myself are unselfish guys. We want to do whatever it takes for us to win a Super Bowl. That is the biggest goal. That is the No. 1 thing for me and him both. We just want to keep moving forward.
“I just want to be a guy that is reliable. I want to take care of the football, make plays in situational downs, get in the end zone and help the offense move the ball and win games. That is what I feel like I can do and I look forward to it.”