Aug 19, 2013; Landover, MD, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Mark Kaboly of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review recently tweeted some very interesting thoughts on the subject of Le’Veon Bell:
If the rookie running back does start in his professional debut against the Minnesota Vikings this weekend, then I can only ask the following question regarding that particular decision:
How much work will the rookie actually receive?
If Bell is indeed healthy, then it would not shock me at all to see the coaching staff push the rookie’s limits with 20-plus touches. The front office drafted the former Michigan State Spartan with the 48th overall pick to provide Pittsburgh’s offense with a versatile weapon at the running back position, and I am sure that they are anxious to see their investment succeed as soon as possible as well.
Optimism aside, consider me “uneasy” about the prospects of handing extended reps to Bell at the moment.
While I am happy to see the rookie healthy and apparently ready to contribute, I think that we should keep in mind that he played only one series during a preseason period in which he suffered an injury to his knee in addition to his foot sprain.
Make no mistake, I will not dispute that Bell is the most talented running back on this roster. Yet is it really worth it to give a seemingly fragile player large amounts of touches when the fully healthy and durable Felix Jones and Jonathan Dwyer are on the roster and showed “signs of life” on the ground (73 combined rushing yards) against the Bears last weekend?
Remember readers, the Steelers are 0-3 right now and are essentially finished when it comes to postseason contention. Would you rather see the coaching staff exercise caution with Bell in an effort to keep him fresh to contribute later in the season by setting aside playing time for Jones and Dwyer in the present?
As anxious as I am about the rookie’s durability, the bulk of the touches need to the running back or running backs who can keep the chains moving and extend drives. Pittsburgh’s running game has been abysmal through the first three games, and the team needs to find some solutions to their problems. Even though the offensive line issues seem to be out of their control, it does not hurt to add a healthy Bell to the mix at running back.
If the coaching staff believes that Bell is ready to shoulder the load as the team’s “feature back” this weekend and beyond, then I just hope that he can prove them right and is able to stay healthy enough to do so.
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