While we may never know the true intent behind Big Ben's comment (Ben later stated that the comment was meant as a compliment to Heath Miller), sometimes perception is reality, and in this case the perception was that Ben was calling out Bell's work ethic.
The only problem is that Bell's recovery was ahead of schedule
On August 20, Bell had an MRI to determine the extent of the foot injury he suffered during the Steelers August 19 pre-season match up against the Redskins. On August 21, reports began to trickle out that Bell in fact had a Lisfranc injury, and was projected to be out for 6-8 weeks. That timeline would mean that Bell's NFL debut would be delayed until after the Steelers bye week, and could have come as late as the Steelers week 7 match up against the Baltimore Ravens. Bell confirmed this time frame during an interview this week (fast forward to the 3 minute mark if you're interested), which prompted Ed Bouchette to write:
Bell said he wanted to beat the 6-8 weeks he was initially told he would miss, and that he does not believe they are rushing him into a game too soon. He said a second MRI was not needed because his foot feels fine.
Bell set a goal, and if he plays against the Vikings this Sunday, he will have achieved that goal. Does that sound like a guy with work ethic issues?
Ben said that he couldn't get a read on Bell, because he was practicing hard one day, but not the next. Anyone who has ever rehabed an injury understands the importance of listening to your body when managing an injury. If you feel discomfort after going hard one day, sometimes you need to throttle back a little to prevent aggravate the injury further. Is this what was going on with Bell? I don't have the answer to that question, but I do have a question for Ben: If you couldn't get a read on Bell because of his practice habits, did you ever think about asking him?
Of course, it's possible that Ben was speaking the truth when he said his comment wasn't a shot at Bell, and this whole thing is being blown out of proportion. When a team like the Steelers starts a season 0-3, even the little things become a big deal.