Le'Veon Bell and the Cincinnati Bengals don't have a rosy relationship, and the Pittsburgh Steelers running back told reporters Wednesday that he plans on making it out of Sunday's AFC North clash with a clean bill of health after a hit from Vontaze Burfict in Week 8 of the 2015 season left him with a torn MCL and PCL, per ESPN.com's Jeremy Fowler:
I'm pretty sure they are going to do whatever they got to try to get me off the field. It is what it is. I understand that. The last two times I've played them, it's been that way. I'm obviously not going to let it happen a third time. I'm going to be prepared for everything. Got to, because with my mindset I have to be smart about it.
Bell singled out Burfict—who has been on his best behavior, with one penalty for five yards this season, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer's Paul Daugherty—when discussing what Sunday could hold.
"I'm pretty sure [Burfict's] going to do whatever he has to do—I'm going to go out there and play football. That's what I'm going to do," he said, per Fowler. "I'm going to go out there and try to beat those guys with my football play. I'm not necessarily worried about trying to be dirty or doing anything to try to hurt those guys."
Bell's public displeasure isn't new. The 24-year-old previously accused the Bengals of intentionally trying to hurt him last season, and he also noted several teams around the league have attempted to do the same.
But try as they may, teams have rarely been able to slow Bell down this season.
Despite missing the season's first three games while serving a league-imposed suspension, Bell has rushed 218 times for 1,053 yards and six touchdowns. He's also recorded 67 receptions on 82 targets for 563 yards and an additional score.
After running roughshod over the Buffalo Bills to the tune of 298 total yards and three touchdowns in Week 14, Bell should be at the center of the Bengals' defensive game plan when the two sides clash at Paul Brown Stadium.
As for Burfict, the enigmatic linebacker seems to have matured since being slapped with a three-game suspension for repeated violations of the league's player-safety rules.
"Mentally he's at a spot now where (he's) just playing football," Bengals cornerback Adam Jones said, per Daugherty. "I think he's done a good job letting his play talk. He still has his edge. But he pick and choose his battles now."
On Sunday against the Steelers, Burfict will need to maintain that approach—and then some—to stay out of trouble against Cincinnati's most bitter rival.