Le'Veon Bell's NFL debut lasted five plays before he hobbled off the field with what was called a mid-foot sprain at the time. Now, two days after the Steelers-Redskins Monday night preseason game, Bell's immediate future as the team's featured running back is in doubt.
The rookie second-round pick will miss at least the first month of the season, a source with knowlege of the situation told CBS NFL Insider Jason La Canfora. Doctors hope he can return within a 6-8 week timeframe but Lisfranc injuries can be tricky.
On Wednesday, the team issued this statement from coach Mike Tomlin: "Le'Veon had his MRI on Tuesday, and we are still awaiting final diagnosis and results of a second opinion. He will not participate this weekend against the Kansas City Chiefs and I will provide an update once we have received the official results of his tests over the next couple of days."
Several hours later, FoxSports.com's Jay Glazer tweeted: "Steelers believe Le'Veon Bell has Lisfranc injury … they are hoping [it] will not require surgery but won't be sure until he gets it double-checked."
Whatever the final diagnosis, Bell will be sidelined at least through the first month of the seaston. The former Michigan St. product had been impressive during training camp but missed the first preseason game with a knee injury. He aggravated that injury last week before rushing four times for nine yards against the Redskins.
I'll be back quicker than ppl kno it...God doesn't make mistakes! Everything happens for a reason, so… http://t.co/TKN15oh8oN— LeVeon Bell (@L_Bell26) August 21, 2013
But this team is currently facing bigger issues: The offensive line (which we discussed in the latest Eye on Football Podcast, conveniently embedded below).
It's a young group of high draft picks that looked abysmal in Washington. Yes, the Steelers have a new offensive line coach, and yes he's implementing a new zone-blocking scheme, but the new-look unit didn't look much different from previous groups that spent much of the fall helping Ben Roethlisberger off his back.
Two more weeks of preseason work could help work out those kinks, as could Bell's return -- whenever that is -- but for now, the running game will look a lot like it did in 2012. Which means Dwyer and Redman will get most of the carries. The hope is that, in addition to a better effort from the o-line, the group of young pass catchers steps up while Big Ben continues to play at a Pro Bowl level.