Steelers notebook: Le'Veon Bell says he's 'due for a big play'
Measured by production alone through three weeks, Le'Veon Bell is half the running back he was last season.
A year after having the third-most yards from scrimmage per game in NFL history (157.0), Bell is averaging almost exactly half that (78.7).
Bell is beginning to lament he's not performing like one of the NFL's best running backs.
“I haven't been that special player yet,” he said. “I've been kind of just playing football. So I have to go out there and be the special player I can be.”
Bell is averaging 3.5 yards per carry and 4.3 yards per reception after posting 4.9 and 8.2, respectively, last season. He has yet to rush for more than 100 yards in a game (he averaged more than 100 last season) and has yet to surpass 100 yards from scrimmage in any of the Steelers' three outings.
For the first time, Bell acknowledged Thursday his training camp no-show could be to blame.
“It could be the surgery,” he said. “I would say it could be rust from not being in camp. It could be a combination of a lot of things.”
Bell had groin surgery in May. He did not sign his franchise-tag tender until September, electing to train on his own.
None of his 65 touches this season have accounted for more than 15 yards.
“I think I'm just as explosive as I always have been,” Bell said. “Just so far I haven't really (had a big play). I have been close to breaking a couple of runs (and) close to breaking a couple catches, but it just hasn't happened yet. Guys are making good tackles on me. ... I feel like I am kind of due for a big play. So I have got to go out there and execute and do what I can.”
Marcus Gilbert was downgraded, and Sean Davis and Mike Mitchell upgraded on the injury report.
Gilbert (hamstring) was a limited practice participant after practicing fully the day prior. Also limited were starting safeties Davis (ankle) and Mitchell (hamstring) — neither of whom practiced Wednesday.
Linebacker Bud Dupree and tight end Jesse James remained limited because of shoulder injuries.
Guard Ramon Foster (thumb) and receiver Martavis Bryant (illness) sat out practice for the second consecutive day, and defensive end Stephon Tuitt (biceps) and linebacker T.J. Watt (groin) practiced fully for the second consecutive day.
Ben Roethlisberger and Bell returned to practice after sitting out Wednesday for non-injury reasons. Bell said he was excused for personal reasons.
There's some debate over who the Steelers' biggest divisional rival is. But from the other team's perspective? It seems to always point back to the Steelers.
Former Browns cornerback Joe Haden was asked to compare the rivalries Cleveland had with the Ravens and Steelers against how the Steelers view the Ravens and Browns.
“When I was in Cleveland, the biggest game was the Steelers game,” he said. “It was kind of that game and then all the rest of them.”
New anthem singer
It typically isn't news who sings “The Star Spangled Banner” before a road game, but this week, of course, the anthem will be watched closely. Also, the Steelers are playing a team whose regular anthem singer resigned last week.
A vocal trio from the United States Air Force Heritage of America Band will perform the anthem before Sunday's Ravens-Steelers game in Baltimore, the Ravens announced. According to the Ravens, the artists have performed the anthem at the World Series, Pro Bowl and the Preakness.
Joey Odoms had been singing the anthem before Ravens games since he won a contest in 2014. He resigned this week amid the controversy.
Galambos to injury list
Linebacker Keith Kelsey was signed to the practice squad, and linebacker Matt Galambos was placed on the practice squad injury list. A rookie from Louisville, Kelsey spent all of training camp with the Steelers but was among the final cuts.
Galambos, a Pitt product, spent all of camp with the Steelers after he made the team as a rookie tryout. Galambos, though, was named to the practice squad. He was cut Sept. 13 and brought back Tuesday before an apparent injury during practice Wednesday.