Steelers coach Mike Tomlin told reporters Tuesday that the groin injury that knocked star running back Le’Veon Bell out of the AFC Championship went from something minor to something that left one of the NFL’s best players unable to continue.
“[Bell] was doing a great job of managing it,” Tomlin said. “It didn’t cause him to miss any practice time, let alone game time. It was something to manage. When you look at the journey that is the season, I think just about every guy down there is dealing with and managing something in an effort to stay on the grass.”
Bell said when he had a flare-up Sunday he had “no burst” and though he wanted to stay in the game, he felt he would be holding the team back if he did. He finished with 20 yards on five carries after setting franchise playoff rushing records in the team’s first two postseason games.
The NFL might have some questions for the Steelers because Bell said he’d been playing through an issue but was not showing up on the team’s official injury reports. Tomlin insisted that it had not been something the Steelers worried about until Sunday.
“I was aware of it,” Tomlin said. “It wasn’t significant to the point where it affected planning or the anticipation of planning in any way. It’s unfortunate that it became an issue in game.”