<
>

Steelers won't assume Le'Veon Bell will be fully healed for 2016 opener

play
Pierce: Will be 'difficult' for Le'Veon Bell to return to form (2:43)

ESPN NFL analyst Antonio Pierce says it's smart for the Steelers to not rush Le'Veon Bell back to the field. (2:43)

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Pittsburgh Steelers aren't assuming anything when it comes to running back Le'Veon Bell's return from injury -- even a full bill of health for the 2016 opener.

General manager Kevin Colbert said Wednesday at the NFL combine that the Steelers are placing no restrictions on Bell's rehab from a torn right MCL and will let him return on his time.

"We can't even say he'll be ready for the regular season because we won't know that until he goes through the whole process," Colbert said. "His health and his ability to return at 100 percent is the most important." Colbert suspects Bell will increase his rehab workload soon.

Bell is arguably the game's most explosive back but is entering the final year of his rookie contract. Playing healthy and playing well is in his best interest financially, unless the team extends him before his final year, which they've done in the past with key players.

Bell was averaging nearly 100 rushing yards per game before hurting his knee in Week 7 off a tackle from Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict.

"We have signed people in the past, like Maurkice Pouncey [in 2014], coming off major surgeries," Colbert said. "As we always do, we always tend to current business and with future business, usually it's after the draft."