After hyperextending his right knee in their regular-season finale, Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell is questionable for Saturday’s AFC Wild Card game against the Baltimore Ravens. Bell’s MRI results were a mix of good news and bad news for the Steelers.
The good news was that Bell’s injury in the Steelers’ 27-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals wasn’t worse. An MRI on Monday showed the hyperextension didn’t have any signs of ligament damage. Technically, that could enable Bell to play against the Ravens on Sunday.
However, even without ligament damage Bell would experience intense pain if he suited up Sunday. Bell injured his knee in the third quarter last Sunday and didn’t return, even though the game wasn’t yet sewn up.
As a precaution, ESPN is reporting that former Minnesota Vikings running back Ben Tate is visiting the Steelers Tuesday. If Tate performs well in a series of drills, ESPN says the Steelers will sign him to replace Bell in Sunday’s AFC Wild Card game.
Replacing Bell in the backfield behind Ben Roethlisberger will be a tall order, as Bell had a strong regular season. The second-year player rushed for 1,361 yards and eight touchdowns. He also had 83 receptions for 854 yards and three TDs. His rushing stats led the AFC this year.
Even with Tate as a backup, having Bell questionable for the AFC Wild Card game against the Ravens is a blow to Pittsburgh’s playoff roadmap. Tate has played for two teams this season, the Vikings and Cleveland Browns, and been waived by both.
If Bell does miss Sunday’s game, he will snap a string of 29 consecutive games played since he missed his first three games last season as a rookie.
Just last week the Steelers players voted Bell their team MVP. On a roster that includes Ben Roethlisberger, that’s an impressive feat.