Pittsburgh Steelers rookie running back Le'Veon Bell could return much earlier than expected from a sprained foot, coach Mike Tomlin said Thursday.
Tomlin said Bell will not require surgery, as was widely reported, and that already the team has seen dramatic improvement from treatment, including more movements without pain in the past 48 hours.
The team is listing Bell's injury as a mild mid-foot sprain. Bell was ruled out of Saturday's preseason game and will be re-evaluated next week.
Bell, listed as a co-starter with Isaac Redman, was hurt during the first quarter of the Steelers' 24-13 loss to the Washington Redskins on Monday night. He underwent an MRI on Tuesday.
ESPN and NFL Network reported the Steelers sent Bell's MRI scans to Charlotte-based foot specialist Dr. Richard Anderson for a final determination regarding the severity of the injury, but that the team was anticipating the worst -- a Lisfranc foot sprain.
The second-round draft pick had missed Pittsburgh's preseason opener with soreness in his left knee. He made his NFL debut against the Redskins, rushing for 9 yards on four carries before the injury.
Pittsburgh has multiple injuries to running backs. Redman is battling a stinger and LaRod Stephens-Howling (knee) and Baron Batch (stinger) also are injured.