Rookies Bell, Jones could start for Steelers if they can learn systems
They're being called perfect fits.
Jarvis Jones, college football's best pass rusher, and a Steelers defense in desperate need of a pressure-the-passer presence.
Le'Veon Bell, the Big Ten's most prolific running back, and a Steelers offense that had its second-lowest rushing output since 1978.
Six weeks since the NFL Draft, there is no evidence that neither first-round Jones nor second-round Bell will start the Sept. 8 opener against Tennessee. While the Steelers insist they didn't draft them to fill urgent needs, they certainly seem to do exactly that.
Not so fast, according to a couple of Steelers veteran players.
Inside linebacker Larry Foote said coordinator Dick LeBeau's defense can be so complicated at first for a player coming out of college — even one who played the 3-4 defense like Jones did at Georgia — that starting as a rookie could be a difficult assignment.
And running back Isaac Redman said Wednesday that while it's difficult to judge any player before the pads come on, which won't happen until training camp, trying to start as a Steelers rookie can be an intimidating prospect.
“It's pretty hard to start any position as a rookie, to come in and see the change of speed. He won't really realize it until he gets into the game,” Redman said. “But I wish him all the best of luck.”
Coach Mike Tomlin said earlier in the week he won't begin to sort out the running back situation — Bell, Redman and Jonathan Dwyer are competing — until training camp.
Regardless, Redman is ready to make a rather bold prediction about what was the NFL's 26th-best rushing offense last season.
“We're going to be one of the best running back groups in the league. Our offensive line is looking great, and it's going to start up front with them. If the running back room can stay healthy, if the offensive line can stay healthy, we're going to do big things this year.”
Dwyer ran for 623 yards and a 4.0 average, while Redman ran for 410 yards and a 3.7 average last season when returning starter Rashard Mendenhall struggled after returning from major knee surgery. The 1,537 yards rushing were the second-fewest in a Steelers 16-game season to the 1,488 yards of 2003.
Redman believes the numerous injuries in the backfield and offensive line were more responsible for the running game's drop-off than a shortage of talent.
“I take it personally,” Redman said of the criticism given those involved in the Steelers' ground game. “You try not to listen to it, but you hear it. It gets to me. It doesn't do nothing but motivate me, make me work harder. ... We showed those spurts in those couple of games that we could be dominant running the ball.”
The Steelers won four straight games during the middle of the season but dropped five of seven after that as offensive line starters Mike Adams and Willie Colon went down with injuries.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Unsung backups provide boost for Steelers defensive line
- Run game needed for balance vs. Seahawks
- Steelers notebook: Linebacker Timmons hoping for contract extension
- Steelers plan to use smart pass rush against Seattle QB Wilson
- Steelers veteran linebacker Harrison focused on stretch run
- Steelers kicker Boswell puts best foot forward
- Steelers defense has taken to adjustments made by Butler
- Rookie linebacker Chickillo adjusting to role with Steelers
- Steelers notebook: Tomlin not grooming successor to RB Williams
- Steelers not giving up on wresting AFC North from Bengals
- Steelers notebook: Players get back to work after bye