Le'Veon Bell: Vontaze Burfict, Bengals were intentionally trying to injure me

Le'Veon Bell's season officially ended in Week 8 of the 2015 season when Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict took him down on what some people -- including Bell and his Steelers' teammates -- thought was an intentional and dirty hit.

"I take the liberty to thinking that everybody plays football just for love of the game," Bell said Monday from Steelers' OTAs, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette. "But people aren't out here playing like that, people are out here to try to really take people out, so obviously I know that now.

"I wish I wasn't ignorant of that fact before but now I just know I just have to take extra precaution of getting down or protecting myself because people are actually trying to take me out of the game. I'll just make sure I protect myself."

Back in November, hours after Bell was injured, Steelers guard Ramon Foster said the Bengals were "aiming" to injure players during a game Cincinnati ultimately won, 16-10.

"I am sure they were aiming to take somebody out today and kudos to them, they did the job," Foster said at the time, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

"He's that type of guy," Foster continued. "That type of guy gets his sooner or later. So, wait and see, I guess. He's that type of guy, period. If you're on the field with him, you know what I mean by that. They'll play it off; he'll act dumb about it. But you don't run across the field hyped, celebrating, jumping up and down when a guy goes down like that."

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When healthy, Le'Veon Bell is one of the league's best running backs. USATSI

After the play, Burfict and his teammates celebrated even though Bell was hurt.

"I don't think it was just him, I feel like the whole team was really out there trying to twist my ankles and do little dirty stuff in between the piles," Bell said Monday.

Two months after Burfict took out Bell, the linebacker also injured Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown during their wild-card meeting, and his hit on Brown resulted in the league suspending him for the first three games of the 2016 season.

Meanwhile, Bell said that Burfict texted him in March.

"He said he was happy to see me running and everything, but that's that. I appreciated it, but I'm just glad to be out here."

Bell said he hopes to be 100 percent healthy by training camp, and as one of the NFL's most dynamic backs, he'll again be an integral cog in a Steelers offense that will be led by Roethlisberger and Brown, but will be without Martavis Bryant.

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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