It's been a long and arduous rehabilitation process for Demetrius Bell. After major knee surgery late last year the offensive tackle underwent a gradual but grueling recovery process that forced him to make patience his most common ideal. Now nine months later Trent Edwards' blind side protector believes he's ready for the rigors of an NFL regular season game.
"I'm definitely happy with the way I healed and the way I came along in my training process and getting back on the field. It feels like I'm right there. I'm really happy with how it all improved," Bell told Buffalobills.com. "I think that I got the snaps that we talked about coming off the injury. The training room did a great job of bringing me back slowly but surely. I truly think I'm ready so I have no doubts how I can play in this game."
Bell's time on the field through the preseason was increased incrementally by Buffalo's athletic training staff and team physicians. After not playing in the preseason opener he saw about 10-12 plays against Indianapolis, followed by 20 plays against Cincinnati. He then got 13 plays with the rest of the starters in the preseason finale at Detroit.
"I was very pleased to see how that went," said head coach Chan Gailey of Bell's steady progress. "We wanted to let that develop without pushing it. It looks like he developed very well and gained some football stamina back. That's going to be important for us for the season."
Getting Bell's surgically repaired knee back to full strength was never a problem. Building the endurance back up is what took time and ultimately was the final hurdle. After going 20 plays in the Cincinnati preseason game the tackle was confident that a full game with 60 plays or so would be attainable.
"It felt good for those 20 plays (against Cincinnati) and I felt like I could go 10 to 20 more, so that's pretty close to a full game," Bell said. "So I'm basing my stamina off of that game, which was two weeks ago, which is why I feel good about it."
Bell admits he won't know for sure if the endurance in his leg will hold up for the entire game Sunday until he actually plays against the Dolphins. He believes if he's not at the 60 to 70 play level yet, he's very, very close.
"Right now I'm happy with my leg," said Bell. "I have no doubts in the back of my mind. I feel like I was before I got hurt. My body feels great."