Success starting to ring a Bell for Steelers' rookie RB
It was a basic 13-yard run out of an inside zone blocking scheme that resulted in a first down.
Nothing too spectacular about that, right?
But for Steelers rookie running back Le'Veon Bell, it meant the world because the recognition and subsequent move he made on Cleveland safety T.J. Ward at the line of scrimmage was evidence that he's starting to get it.
“I wasn't making that guy miss earlier in the season,” Bell said. “(Ward) came down a little quicker, and I made him miss because I saw it before. He gets me before.”
Bell has been making a lot of people miss lately.
When the Steelers used their second-round pick on Bell, they liked his size, power, hands and speed. Nothing was mentioned about his ability to make defenders miss.
Against the Browns, Bell made five would-be tacklers miss, resulting in an extra 34 yards. The week before that, he made seven tacklers miss.
“On this level, you have to make somebody miss,” Bell said. “Guys are so good. You are not going to have the opportunity to get into the field much if you aren't making that guy miss. That's just me being instinctive as a runner. Making a guy miss is something that I've been doing since I've been little playing football.”
Still, the numbers aren't there for Bell — 3.2 yards per carry, one run longer than 13 yards, no 100-yard games — in part because the Steelers run predominately out of the shotgun, and he's running behind a banged-up and makeshift offensive line. But the weekly improvement has been noticeable.
“I feel that I am getting better each and every week,” said Bell, who missed most of training camp and the first three games with a foot injury. “I am going to continue to strive to get better every day that I can. I really don't care about my stats.”
Bell has rushed for 455 yards (31st in the NFL) in his eight starts and had at least 18 attempts in each game, but hasn't made the impact other rookie running backs have had around the league.
Eddie Lacy, who the Steelers passed over in the second round to draft Bell, has 806 yards and six touchdowns for the Packers.
“It takes time,” running back Jonathan Dwyer said. “No, he hasn't had the big game yet, but he's been productive each week. You are going to miss a read. No matter who the running back is, they are going to miss reads. Adrian Peterson is going to miss some, too. Everybody needs to be patient.”
Bell has proven to be an every-down back. He's played in 74 percent of the snaps, which is comparable with some of the best in the league — Matt Forte (88 percent), Jamaal Charles (87 percent), Chris Johnson (78 percent), Peterson (78 percent), and Frank Gore (74 percent).
Bell has been a valuable asset in the pass game as well; he has caught 26 passes for 256 yards.
He also has gained Ben Roethlisberger's trust in pass protection. Roethlisberger knows it's starting to click for Bell.
“I do not have to ask him every time a play is called, “Do you know what you have?” I'm fully comfortable that he knows what he's got,” Roethlisberger said.
Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib.
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