Steelers RB Bell feels ‘lucky’ after big hit

Le’Veon Bell knows it could have been worse.

The Pittsburgh Steelers rookie running back considers himself

”lucky” he sustained nothing worse than a concussion after taking

a big hit from Baltimore defensive back Jimmy Smith at the goal

line of Thursday’s 22-20 loss to the Ravens.

Bell was attempting to bring Pittsburgh within a 2-point

conversion late in the fourth quarter when he crashed into Smith.

The collision jarred Bell’s helmet loose. By rule, the play was

ruled dead immediately, nullifying an apparent touchdown.

Turns out, not scoring was the least of Bell’s worries. He

acknowledged Monday he was ”out of it a little bit” as trainers

took him off the field and wasn’t aware the touchdown was negated

until much later. Pittsburgh scored on the following play but

couldn’t execute the 2-point conversion, falling to 5-7 with a

month left in the regular season.

Bell was able to run on Monday but held out of full practice. He

has taken the ImPACT test under NFL guidelines and it’s unclear if

he’ll be available for Sunday’s game against Miami (6-6).

Having 10 days between games could give Bell enough time to

heal. But the 21-year-old is simply thankful he didn’t leave the

field on a stretcher.

”I’m glad that nothing seriously wrong happened,” he said. “It

was definitely an ugly hit. I don’t remember the exact play. But

once I seen the film, I know what it looks like now.”

Bell leads the Steelers with 528 yards rushing and five

touchdowns. He is also fifth on the team with 33 receptions. Taken

in the second round of the 2013 draft because of his versatility,

he has given Pittsburgh’s struggling running game some needed

stability.

If Bell can’t play, the Steelers will turn to Jonathan Dwyer or

Felix Jones when they face the Dolphins. Whoever is in the

backfield will play behind an offensive line that can’t seem to

stay healthy.

Pittsburgh lost center Fernando Velasco for the season with an

Achilles injury, making him the second center to end the year on

injured reserve. Perennial Pro Bowler Maurkice Pouncey played just

eight snaps this season before tearing the ACL in his right

knee.

Guard David DeCastro (foot), left tackle Kelvin Beachum (knee)

and reserve tackle Mike Adams (ankle) are also hurt, forcing the

Steelers to scramble to find five healthy linemen for practice on

Monday. They signed well-traveled center Eric Olsen and tackle

Rashad Butler on Saturday, though Butler’s stay was short-lived

after he left the team on Monday due to ”personal reasons.”

Cody Wallace, signed for depth purposes in September,

anticipates making the first start of his NFL career against the

Dolphins. If he starts, the Steelers will have their seventh

different starting line combination this season.

”This year has been kind of unusual in that way,” Wallace

said. ”But we’re fortunate to have enough guys to step in and make

an impact after the starter got hurt. I’m glad to be part of that

group, too, but this really has been an interesting year in that

regard.”

Pittsburgh’s unlikely hopes for a playoff berth remain alive

after losses by San Diego, the New York Jets and Tennessee on

Sunday. If the Steelers can win out – they face just one team with

a winning record the rest of the way – and get a dash of help, they

could find their way from 0-4 to the postseason.

”We’re still in this thing,” Dwyer said. ”It’s crazy. You

know the things we wanted to happen this past weekend, they

happened. We know if we start stacking wins, we’ll see things work

out our way.”

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org