Bell, who exited Sunday’s AFC Championship Game against the Patriots with the injury, told reporters after the game he had been struggling with a groin issue for “a couple weeks” and that the problem exacerbated itself during play.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin later said he was aware of Bell’s injury prior to the New England game, but that it was not significant in nature. Technically, only serious or “noteworthy” injuries have to appear on the practice report.
The Steelers now find themselves in similar water as the Seattle Seahawks. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said he made a mistake by not reporting a “legitimate” MCL injury sustained by cornerback Richard Sherman. General manager John Schneider said Thursday that there was no malicious intent behind the issue.
Sherman told NFL.com on Friday that his injury was not significant and expected the Seahawks to be warned by the league, but not punished.
An NFL spokesman reached by NFL.com on Friday said the league’s review into Seattle’s situation is ongoing.
Bell played only 11 snaps, or 16 percent of Pittsburgh’s offensive snaps, against New England last Sunday. He finished with six carries for 20 yards. In a Twitter message posted shortly after the game, Bell said:
Despite missing four games due to a violation of league rules, Bell racked up 1,268 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground this year alongside 616 receiving yards. His absence against New England was a critical factor in the lopsided 36-17 loss.