Le'Veon Bell upbeat but still on the mend

PITTSBURGH -- Le’Veon Bell watched Steelers practice in street clothes on Wednesday as he recovers from a mid-foot sprain, an injury that has tested the rookie running back’s patience.

“I was hoping I would be more advanced than I am now, but it is what it is,” Bell said. “I’m just going to keep fighting and take it day by day.”

Bell acknowledged that there is a chance he won’t play until the fifth game of the season, which would give him extra time to heal because of the Steelers’ bye week. If Bell returns after the bye – the Steelers visit the Jets on Oct. 13 after an off week -- the second-round pick will have missed a little less than two months.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Bell would be out six to eight weeks after the running back hurt his right foot in an Aug. 19 preseason game.

“Until I’m able to practice the way Coach T [Mike Tomlin] wants me to practice, I’m not going to be able to play,” Bell said. “So I’ve just got to take it day by day and do what I can.”

The Steelers won’t rush Bell back, especially after he also missed time during training camp because of a left knee injury. Bell said last week that he hoped to return for the second game of the season, but he has had to temper those expectations.

“I’m not going to come back until I’m able to play and really help this team,” Bell said. “I’m not going to go out there and be 65 or 70 [percent] and not look like myself and not really be helping the offense. I’m going to make sure I’m 100 percent.”

Bell remains upbeat despite the early setbacks, and it makes all the sense in the world for the Steelers to bring him back a week too late than a week too soon, especially with the bye so early in the season.

Bell is too big a part of the Steelers’ long-term plans for the team to take anything that resembles a short-sighted approach to fixing the running game.

“My foot feels great right now,” Bell said, “and I’m just going to keep hoping for a progression and I should be good.”