Le'Veon Bell's return to practice shows anticipation for his debut is high

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

Le'Veon Bell's knee injury and the ups and downs that come with it is delaying his highly anticipated debut and putting Steelers fans into a state of frenzy.

If it was only a knee bruise, the injury of Le'Veon Bell in Steelers' training camp practice Thursday shows how excited Steelers fans are for his rookie season.

It was one of the few topics that bumped the streaking Pirates out of the local headlines, and his return was even more hotly discussed. If Bell does play in the Steelers' second preseason game against Washington Monday, he better run for 200 yards on 10 carries, or his current hype will be unfulfilled.

We'll go out on a limb and suggest he will not finish with those stats. If he does well, though, the anxiety over his now twice-injured left knee will still remain to an extent, but that's what happens when a Steelers player suddenly finds himself the player counted on to provide the soul-cleansing spark this team has needed the last two years.

The rookies always end up in these positions. David DeCastro's injury in the third preseason game against the Buffalo Bills deflated hope for the season. The emergence of Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown were hot training camp topics in 2010.

Bell returned after another knee injury. Whether we breathed a sigh of relief, or are just setting the stage for a great season filled with the anxiety of "what if it happens again" remains to be seen. Even Bell seems to be cognizant of that anxiety. He told the team's web site Friday, "It’s not too bad. It’s nothing too major. I don’t know the length or period of time, but it’s not as bad as everybody thinks it is."

How much action will Bell get Monday? Seems like a perfect opportunity to keep the rookie under (ice) wraps and be sure to run his likely back-ups for the 2013 season to break up a nice sweat. It's likely either Isaac Redman or Jonathan Dwyer will be released at some point, and the deadline to get the team from 90 to 75 is Aug. 27. Perhaps the team will cut one of them before that, to give them a chance to catch on somewhere else.

Working with these things in mind is part of the job for the Hyped Player. If his highly anticipated debut isn't made in the second preseason game, throngs of prescriptions for Valium will need to be filled Tuesday. If he does play, though, and he rushes for less than 200 yards, maybe a few of those prescriptions will be filled anyway.

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