Back With Everything But Bell

The Steelers returned to their South Side home Wednesday with a renewed focus and two key players -- but not Le'Veon Bell. Coach Mike Tomlin will provide details on Bell's injury tomorrow.

PITTSBURGH -- The Steelers returned to the South Side to resume practice and they brought with them David Johnson, Cortez Allen, on-field officials, a sense of urgency, and even a game plan for this Saturday's preseason game.

They brought back just about everything but their rookie running back, Le'Veon Bell.

Two national reporters tweeted Wednesday that Bell has a Lisfranc injury, but that it's not as serious as the Lisfranc injury which will keep Matt Spaeth out of action for 8-10 weeks.

Some media outlets are reporting that Bell might miss a month, but Steelers coach Mike Tomlin wouldn't confirm or deny any parts of the rumor mill.

"I'll address the injuries tomorrow at the press conference. I think that's appropriate," said Tomlin. "I haven't met with the doctors. I'm meeting with the doctors after practice today and I haven't left the field yet."

Tomlin did deny a report that Bell has sought out a second opinion, but wouldn't say anything else about the second-round pick who was destined to start the opener before limping off the field Monday night in Washington.

The activation of Johnson from the PUP list helps a tight end situation that's been rocked by injuries to Spaeth and Heath Miller, who remains on the PUP list as he rehabilitates an eight-month-old injury in which he tore his ACL and MCL. It appears the Steelers may be forced to keep four tight ends on their initial 53-man cutdown list.

The good news of the day, though, was the return of Allen to full contact work. The starting left cornerback underwent minor knee surgery early in camp, and still says he's merely "day-to-day", but Wednesday he impressed teammates with his speed and fluidity.

"He looked good. He looked good," said safety Ryan Clark. "Cortez has it figured out. I'm the dummy that's gone to training camp every year for the last 12 years. Right? I'm the stupid one. Cortez is the smart one. Cortez missed camp his first year, he teased us last year and did most of it, and he missed it this year, and he's going to start. Obviously, Cortez knows things that we don't.

"But, nah, he looked extremely good. I think it's important to have him back for this game, in the sense that this group has never played together. These five people who are playing in nickel situations have never played together at one time, so it's important to have them out there."

The urgency Clark deems important for the secondary was apparent all over the field Wednesday as the officials threw flags, coaches chewed out players, and leaders chewed out teammates.

"It's a different week. It's more of a work-type week," Clark said. "I think you can have the silliness and competitiveness in camp because we're competing against each other. Once you start to service each other, I think the vibe is different. It's a more workman-type vibe, definitely a vibe you want to learn. I think that adds to it. Also, I think we had referees out. We're trying to correct mistakes from the game, so I think the overall practice is so much different than what we had since we've been back."

The hot and muggy weather conditions didn't help the coaches' moods, either, but Clark didn't mind.

"It's 120 (degrees) where I train, and I train in long-sleeve shirts," he said. "I was more focused on understanding what Kansas City is going to give us, and I think from a coaching standpoint they were more focused on us learning that as well.

"I think they have a more in-season mindset than anything. The learning and the 'It's OK to make this mistake and that mistake' that you have in a camp-type setting, the we'll-correct-it-tonight that you feel in camp, is gone. There's no correcting it tonight. We go home. It's a short week, work-wise, and it's important in the sense the starters are going to play a long time. I think that's what you sense more than anything. There is an urgency that we have a game. We have a real game."

The group that took last week's loss the hardest -- and the group that stayed the latest after practice -- was the offensive line, which called a unit meeting earlier in the day.

"We played bad," said guard Ramon Foster. "We killed ourselves. We can't have those type of things going on. That's rookie stuff right there. We've got to be better. Guys came out today though with a focused mindset knowing that we can't have that. We had a talk this morning about the fact this team goes as far as we push it, and the way we came out of the game wasn't right. We wanted to go back another series being how bad we had gotten. We've got to pull it together this third game."

NOTES -- Missing practice were Stevenson Sylvester, DeMarcus Van Dyke and Isaiah Green. ... Tomlin's press conference will be held at 12:30 p.m. Thursday before practice. ... The Steelers host the Chiefs Saturday at 7:30 p.m.


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