MIAMI -- Pittsburgh Steelers star running back Le'Veon Bell says he's on schedule for training camp and that his leg is "probably stronger than it ever was" after rehabbing a right knee injury that knocked him out of last season.
In a sit-down interview with ESPN on Saturday, Bell said he's beyond all the physical hurdles he faced, and right on time for him to report to the Steelers on July 28. But it will be up to the team to decide his workload in training camp and the preseason.
Bell suffered a torn MCL and PCL in Week 8 and had surgery last November. He played five games last year and rushed for 556 yards with three touchdowns.
"I'm going to be ready," Bell said of training camp, while attending a business retreat Saturday organized by his agent, Adisa Bakari. "The biggest thing for me is getting mentally ready for getting hit and things like that, and I don't think I'll really get tackled until a preseason game or maybe in the regular season. I don't think I'll actually hit the ground or get tackled. But when that does happen, I'll be ready for it. But cutting, running routes, picking them and putting them on my feet, everything is back to normal." Bell said overall the rehab process went "great." But there were tough times, particularly early on.
"It's crazy because, in November when it happened, I never realize I'd be back at this point," Bell said. "I remember it was times when I couldn't walk up the steps, walk down the steps, really couldn't sit down by myself, even go to the restroom. I'm just thinking now I'm right back to form how I was when I left. Obviously, it's more of a mental thing for me now. I know my knee is strong enough now. I know it's probably stronger than it ever was, my legs are."
Bell also is entering the final year of his rookie contract. Bell could challenge Minnesota Vikings Pro Bowler Adrian Peterson as the highest-paid running back in the NFL if he hits the open market. Peterson's contract now averages about $14 million per season.
Bell recently made a song called "Focus," where he loosely referenced $15 million as an annual salary. Bell said Saturday that he freestyled the line in the song, which was made about three or four months ago, and it wasn't a big deal.
Bell said he's confident the contract situation won't be an issue and his goal is to remain in Pittsburgh.
"I'm not a real greedy guy. I don't play football just for money or things like that," Bell said. "I just want to be valued. Wherever it is -- whether its $15 million or lower or higher, whatever it is - I think we will get to an agreement eventually. "Obviously, I want to be a Steeler for my whole life. My family grew up Pittsburgh Steelers fans, and it's crazy I even got drafted there. So I want to be with them and hopefully we'll reach an agreement. But that will take place once that time come."