By WILL GRAVES
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
PITTSBURGH – Le’Veon Bell knows it could have been worse.
The Pittsburgh Steelers rookie running back considers himself “lucky” he sustained nothing worse than a concussion after taking a big hit from Baltimore defensive back Jimmy Smith at the goal line of Thursday’s 22-20 loss to the Ravens.
Bell was attempting to bring Pittsburgh within a 2-point conversion late in the fourth quarter when he crashed into Smith. The collision jarred Bell’s helmet loose.
By rule, the play was ruled dead immediately, nullifying an apparent touchdown.
Turns out, not scoring was the least of Bell’s worries. He acknowledged Monday he was “out of it a little bit” as trainers took him off the field and wasn’t aware the touchdown was negated until much later. Pittsburgh scored on the following play but couldn’t execute the 2-point conversion, falling to 5-7 with a month left in the regular season.
Bell was able to run on Monday but was held out of full practice. He has taken the ImPACT test under NFL guidelines and it’s unclear if he’ll be available for Sunday’s game against Miami (6-6).
Having 10 days between games could give Bell enough time to heal. But the 21-year-old is simply thankful he didn’t leave the field on a stretcher.
“I’m glad that nothing seriously wrong happened,” he said. “It was definitely an ugly hit. I don’t remember the exact play. But once I seen the film, I know what it looks like now.”
Bell leads the Steelers with 528 yards rushing and five touchdowns.
He is also fifth on the team with 33 receptions. Taken in the second round of the 2013 draft because of his versatility, he has given Pittsburgh’s struggling running game some needed stability.
If Bell can’t play, the Steelers will turn to Jonathan Dwyer or Felix Jones when they face the Dolphins.
Whoever is in the backfield will play behind an offensive line that can’t seem to stay healthy.
Pittsburgh lost center Fernando Velasco for the season with an Achilles injury, making him the second center to end the year on injured reserve. Perennial Pro Bowler Maurkice Pouncey played just eight snaps this season before tearing the ACL in his right knee.
Guard David DeCastro (foot), left tackle Kelvin Beachum (knee) and reserve tackle Mike Adams (ankle) are also hurt, forcing the Steelers to scramble to find five healthy linemen for practice on Monday.
They signed well-traveled center Eric Olsen and tackle Rashad Butler on Saturday, though Butler’s stay was short-lived after he left the team on Monday due to “personal reasons.”
Cody Wallace, signed for depth purposes in September, anticipates making the first start of his NFL career against the Dolphins.
If he starts, the Steelers will have their seventh different starting line combination this season.
“This year has been kind of unusual in that way,” Wallace said. “But we’re fortunate to have enough guys to step in and make an impact after the starter got hurt.
“I’m glad to be part of that group, too, but this really has been an interesting year in that regard.”
Pittsburgh’s unlikely hopes for a playoff berth remain alive after losses by San Diego, the New York Jets and Tennessee on Sunday. If the Steelers can win out – they face just one team with a winning record the rest of the way – and get a dash of help, they could find their way from 0-4 to the postseason.
“We’re still in this thing,” Dwyer said. “It’s crazy. You know the things we wanted to happen this past weekend, they happened. We know if we start stacking wins, we’ll see things work out our way.”
By WILL GRAVES
Richland's Pecora is one of two local wrestlers in state finals
It has never been easy for Nico Pecora to just be himself on the wrestling mat.
He’s always been the son of legendary Pitt-Johnstown coach Pat Pecora. And the younger brother of standout Marco Pecora.
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Bishop Carroll boys continue in playoffs
Bishop Carroll trailed just once on Friday in its PIAA Class A first-round contest against Clarion-Limestone at Richland High School.
After that early 3-0 deficit, the Huskies never looked back rolling to a dominating 81-42 victory over the Lions.
North Catholic rolls over Berlin in Class A
Berlin Brothersvalley had a hot start and an uptempo finish in the PIAA Class A boys’ basketball playoffs on Friday night at Pitt-Johnstown.
But Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic rode 6-foot-9 senior center Dominic Robb inside, and used an 11-0 spurt to open the third quarter to pull away in a 56-44 victory at the Sports Center.
Somerset eliminated from Class AAA tourney
Lancaster Mennonite unleashed its offensive arsenal against Somerset on Friday night in first-round PIAA Class AAA basketball tournament action at Richland High School.
The second and fourth quarters were the downfall for the Golden Eagles who fell behind in the second and could never quite get back on track, falling 70-44.
Richland rolling forward
Richland High’s boys’ basketball team made history last weekend. Now, the Rams want to add a few more details to this memorable story.
Coach Greg Burke’s team won the program’s first District 6 boys’ basketball title since 1975 in convincing fashion over Central on March 1.
Tomahawks lose shutout
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While the Tomahawks came up short on the scoreboard, they weren’t short on chances.
McCutchen leads Pirates offense in loss to Twins
Andrew McCutchen homered, doubled and singled Friday for the Pittsburgh Pirates in a 6-5 loss to the Minnesota Twins.
McCutchen went 3 for 3, scored twice and drove in two runs. The reigning NL MVP is 8 for 11 in four games this spring.
Richland wrestler reaches PIAA title match
Nico Pecora gave the area its second state finalist at the PIAA Class AA Wrestling Championships tonight.
Bedford wrestler reaches state championship match
Bedford will have a state finalist for the second consecutive season, but it will not be the same one.
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