Bell skipped training camp and the preseason after not agreeing to a long-term contract in July.
The question is whether the Steelers will ride Bell with his normal workload (28.0 touches per game in 2016), or ease him into the game the first week.
Bell insists he's in shape and ready to go with a full workload versus the Browns. Intelligent minds can disagree on the validity of soft-muscle issues for players who haven't practiced or played a game in months.
One of those disagreements came on NFL Network's NFL GameDay Morning on Sunday between two former pros, receiver Steve Smith Sr. and fullback Michael Robinson.
Take away the debate, fellas:
Smith: I expect him to ball, that's what I expect him to do. He understands what is expected from and he understands what he wants from himself, and he's going to go out there and ball.
Robinson: When you're in the real game and, for lack of better words, the live action is happening, your health is on the line ... so, for me, it's impossible to train like it's a real game situation, unless you're getting hit for real. Unless you have the equipment on and you can go across the middle, Steve, and take that big hit. If that's not happening in your training, it's not the real game. I think you limit his touches. Look at last year: The guy had 28 touches a game. That's first in the national football league when you're talking about backs.
Smith:Whoa, whoa. Why are we limiting his touches?
Robinson: Because he didn't have training camp.
Robinson: He's never been through 16 games. As a runner, you need training camp and feel of the offensive line. I know he's a great guy, I know he's a great talent...
Smith: Ain't nobody trying to hear all of that.
Robinson: I feel you, but you played on the outside of the numbers. That's different than inside this box right here. I'm just saying, it's different.
Smith: Yes, I also did kickoff and punt return, and wide receiver. I understand you have to simulate, but at the end of the day, if you're the starting running back, I don't care who was playing in my absence. When I come back, 'here you go sir, thank you, appreciate it.'
Robinson: (Last year when Bell came off suspension) He had training camp. That's different.
Smith: Eh, he'll be all right. He'll be straight.