PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Steelers' crowded backfield is sorting itself out.
Just not the way coach Mike Tomlin envisioned.
What started as a three-man race between Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer and rookie Le'Veon Bell is turning into a battle of attrition after Tomlin ruled Bell out of Saturday's game against Kansas City with a right foot injury.
Bell underwent an MRI on Tuesday and Tomlin said he will wait for a second opinion before making a determination about Bell's long-term status. Tomlin brushed aside reports that Bell is out several weeks.
"I'll address the injuries (Thursday)," Tomlin said. "I haven't met with the doctors (yet)."
The setback is the latest in what is quickly becoming a frustrating camp for the 48th overall pick in the NFL Draft. The Steelers noted Bell's durability and his versatility when they selected the 21-year-old out of Michigan State. Bell's 382 carries last season led the entire country. Throw in his 32 receptions and Bell averaged more than 30 touches a game without incident.
For two weeks, Bell looked even better than advertised, so good Tomlin named Bell a co-starter even though a sore left knee kept him out of the preseason opener against the New York Giants. Bell aggravated the injury in practice last week only to recover in time to start on Monday night in Washington.
The highly anticipated debut lasted a handful of snaps. Bell carried four times for nine yards before tweaking a foot with an injury that suddenly swings the door open for Dwyer and Redman.
It's a door both players have struggled walking through.
Redman spent last season dealing with ankle injuries and was held out of Monday's game after suffering a stinger in practice. Dwyer stepped in and ran for 68 yards on 14 carries but also fumbled, a major concern for a team that finished minus-10 in the giveaway/takeaway ratio in 2012.
"I think I'm doing OK, but I know I can be better," Dwyer said. "I'm just trying to be consistently consistent and show something different each and every week and each and every game."
At the moment, the Steelers would settle for having the same face back there for an extended period of time. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley reshuffled the offensive line and introduced a zone blocking scheme in in the offseason. Results have been mixed at best for a team that ranked 29th in yards per carry a year ago.
Though stressing it's too early to get concerned, Dwyer and Redman understand it's time to get serious.
"Le'Veon's down, and we're a little banged up," Redman said. "So, I'm ready to step up and lead this room."