Tatum Bell played through toe pain at Cleveland and practiced through it in the days that followed. All along, though, he believed that being hurt didn’t mean he was injured, and that he’d be able to make it through a full day’s work Sunday against Indianapolis.
In the hour before kickoff, though, Bell sensed that something might be amiss.
“I felt it in warm-ups,” he said Monday. “In practice I was hurting, but I just had to keep on pushing. It kept getting better day by day, but by game time, I figured I would have been hurting the team if I would have stayed in there.”
Bell had nine carries for 24 yards in the first half, but just four for three yards after halftime, leaving his injury-riddled Sunday as easily his least productive of the season to date. But he doesn’t want time to let the lingering toe problems heal.
“I don’t want to take a week (off),” he said.
He likely wouldn’t have it anyway — at least not unless his toe problems worsen.
“I’m sure he’d be a lot better if he sat down for a couple of weeks. I think everybody would feel a lot better if they sat down for a couple of weeks,” Head Coach Mike Shanahan said, “but everybody’s sore at this time of year, and everybody’s tired at this time of year, and everybody’s hurting a little bit.”
The only thing that settles Bell is the performance of his unrelated understudy of the same surname. Mike Bell’s rousing bench performance helped the Broncos notch their most productive ground game of the season to date, and lessened the impact of Tatum Bell’s absence.
“He really helped us (and) put us in position to win the game,” Tatum Bell said. “He ran well, and there wasn’t no drop off at all. I was proud of him.”
But the third-year back doesn’t want to cede the first-team role — especially not this week.
“I’ve had this game penciled in all year,” Tatum Bell said. “If I can’t go, I can’t go, but I’m sure going to go out and practice like I’m ready to go.”
And he knows that will mean playing through pain.
“I’m going to have to deal with it,” he said. “I’m not going to be 100 percent, but I can get to the point where I’m going to be able to cut and be comfortable. If I can be explosive like I’ve been, I’ll be alright.”
Added Shanahan: “If he’s injured he won’t play; if he’s hurting, he’ll do his best to play.”