Stephania Bell on Timmons and Smith

Posted by ESPN.com’s James Walker

When it comes to explaining sports injuries, no one does it better than physical therapist and ESPN’s own Stephania Bell.

Thursday the AFC North blog checked in with Bell to breakdown a pair of recent, key injuries within the division involving Lawrence Timmons of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Andre Smith of the Cincinnati Bengals.

Lawrence Timmons

Injury: High ankle sprain

Date suffered: 8/29

Bell’s analysis: Surgery obviously is not needed for Timmons but nonetheless the ankle ligaments need to heal enough to maintain stability in that joint, and he has to be able to move -- run, plant, pivot, cut -- without pain and at full speed. Timmons is ruled out for the last preseason game but appears questionable for Week 1. The first game would only be 12 days post-high ankle sprain which would be a pretty quick return for this type of injury. There are varying degrees of severity of sprains which better allows for prognosis. Without knowing the severity of Timmons' sprain, it makes it difficult to accurately assess. While nothing is impossible and having to assess the player's healing on a daily basis, the fact that he's in a boot now, which is designed to limit mobility and promote healing, makes next Thursday's return appear unlikely. I would more likely project him to Week 2 or even Week 3.

Andre Smith

Injury: Foot fracture

Date suffered: 8/30

Bell’s analysis: Without knowing which bone, it's tough to provide any definitive guidelines. I will say that if the bone is healing well, he can return sooner. I believe [Bengals coach Marvin] Lewis said he'd miss a few weeks. But there may be some issues with his conditioning that they want to work on before throwing him back into the football mix. Even if he's in a protective phase now as far as weight-bearing, he can ride the bike, work out in a pool, and other cardio activities. And he can use the time to learn the system, playbook, etc. since he missed so much time in camp. Even if he heals quickly, I would expect that he'll need some additional time to get into 'football' shape both mentally and physically. Again, there is not enough information for me to give a really accurate prognosis. But it would not surprise me if we don't see him for a few weeks.