2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Versatile RB Bell flourishing for Steelers

    2013-12-18 15:37

(Eds: With AP Photos.)
By WILL GRAVES
AP Sports Writer

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Le'Veon Bell listens to his instincts, not his mother, in his job as the Pittsburgh Steelers' running back.

A half-dozen times this season, Bell has found himself in the open field with an opponent taking aim at his legs. Rather than churn for a few extra yards, Bell instead launches himself into the air as if to turn the defender into the world's largest hurdle.

Sometimes it works out, as it did when he cleared Cincinnati's Dre Kirkpatrick for an 8-yard gain in last week's 30-20 win over the Bengals. Sometimes it doesn't. Later, Bell tried the same move only to fall awkwardly to the ground.

Both times Bell was disobeying an order from his mother, who is worried the laws of physics will eventually catch up to her son. Bell does his best to avoid the topic when it comes up.

''When I talk to her, she's going to try and talk me out of it again,'' Bell said with a laugh. ''But it's something that really happens naturally.''

Like just about everything else on the field for the versatile back who is becoming a vital part of an offense trying to keep the Steelers (6-8) on the fringe of the playoff race.

Bell has a chance to break several team records over the final two weeks, heady territory for a player who missed half of training camp and the first three games of the season with a left foot injury that seemed to hint at fragility.

Hardly.

His next carry will be the most by a rookie in team history. He's nine receptions from surpassing John L. Williams' club mark for most catches by a running back in a single season. Oh, and he's 202 yards from scrimmage short of surpassing Franco Harris for the most productive season by a rookie running back on a team that has been around for 81 years.

The yards have been hard-earned ones. Playing behind an offensive line in a constant state of flux, Bell is averaging a paltry 3.26 yards per carry, 44th-best among qualified backs.

The numbers, however, are a bit deceiving. Bell has spent most of the last six weeks in an offense that works heavily out of the shotgun, meaning Bell is often standing still when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger hands him the ball. What open space Bell finds is often created by twisting his 6-foot-1, 230-pound frame through slivers that most backs couldn't squeeze through.

''I don't look at it as tougher, just different,'' Bell said.

The Steelers chose Bell over Alabama star Eddie Lacy because of Bell's diversity. His 43 receptions aren't all simple dump-offs or screens. Against the Bengals, he converted a fourth-and-4 from the Cincinnati 31 by lining up in the slot and running an out pattern before extending his hands to make the catch.

''He does some amazing things in the passing game,'' said Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown. ''His yards from scrimmage is amazing and he continues to get better and better as the game unfolds.''

Bell is averaging over 24 touches over the last four weeks, looking very much like the workhorse who led the nation in rushing attempts at Michigan State last fall. At age 21, he's one of the youngest backs in the NFL, yet carries himself with a maturity that has quickly won over his teammates and coaches.

Pressed this week on why the Steelers chose Bell over the more accomplished Lacy, coach Mike Tomlin called it an ''easy'' decision based on Pittsburgh's needs after the team made no attempt to re-sign mercurial Rashard Mendenhall.

''To be honest with you, he was kind of ready-made ... when we got him,'' Tomlin said. ''If you look at his numbers from Michigan State and look at his tape from Michigan State, he was a man for all situations for those guys.''

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

A.J. McCarronMay 25 10:37p

Cincinnati Bengals QB AJ McCarron (shoulder) is healthy and hoping to push QB Andy Dalton in 2015. 'We wanted him in our building so bad and it happened and [ More ]

Ray McDonaldMay 25 04:42p

Updating previous reports, Chicago Bears DE Ray McDonald has been released Monday, May 25, just hours after being arrested for alleged domestic violence and child endangerment.

Adrian PetersonMay 25 02:42p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson still wants to be traded, according to a source. Peterson intends to skip all organized team activities, which would cause him to lose $250,000 in workout bonuses.

Adrian PetersonMay 24 09:22p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson has informed head coach Mike Zimmer that he will not attend the optional practices that begin Tuesday, May 26, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

Tom BradyMay 22 04:32p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady will have the appeal of his four-game suspension heard by commissioner Roger Goodell after the NFL rejected a motion by the NFL Players [ More ]

Tom BradyMay 22 03:32p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady's appeal of his four-game suspension has not been scheduled at this time.

Ray RiceMay 22 11:42a

Free-agent RB Ray Rice (Ravens) could be a consideration for the Dallas Cowboys in free agency, speculates The Dallas Morning News' Jon Machota. He cites Cowboys owner and general [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMay 22 09:52a

Updating an ongoing story, Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson remains in pursuit of being traded or receiving a new contract and remains away from the organization during voluntary workouts. [ More ]

William BeattyMay 21 12:02p

Updating previous reports, New York Giants OT William Beatty (chest) underwent successful surgery Thursday, May 21, to repair a torn pectoral muscle. Beatty will need approximately five to six months of recovery time.

Derek CarrMay 20 10:23p

Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr (finger) will not need surgery on his injured finger and may be able to throw again before the end of offseason workouts, according to his agent.

Joseph RandleMay 20 09:23p

Dallas Cowboys RB Joseph Randle is the most likely option to lead the team's running back by committee approach in 2015. Randle has the most experience in the system, [ More ]

William BeattyMay 20 03:53p

Updating previous reports, New York Giants OT William Beatty's (pectoral) torn pectoral will require surgery and Beatty's recovery time is expected to be around five months. Beatty suffered the [ More ]

William BeattyMay 20 03:33p

Updating a previous report, New York Giants OT William Beatty (shoulder) tore his pectoral while lifting weights Wednesday, May 20, according to a source, and will undergo surgery. One [ More ]

Josh HillMay 20 03:23p

New Orleans Saints TE Josh Hill is slated as the starting tight end this season with TE Jimmy Graham now in Seattle. TE Benjamin Watson could give Hill a run for his money, however.

William BeattyMay 20 03:13p

New York Giants OT William Beatty (shoulder) suffered a potentially serious shoulder injury while lifting weights Wednesday, May 20, according to a source. Surgery is a possibility.

Geno SmithMay 20 03:03p

New York Jets QB Geno Smith is the starting quarterback and will not see competition in training camp, according to offensive coordinator Chan Gailey.

Tom BradyMay 20 03:03p

Updating previous reports, New England Patriots QB Tom Brady's appeal will not be affected by the team's decision to accept their sanctions. Commissioner Roger Goodell said he wants to [ More ]

Matt JonesMay 20 02:15p

Washington Redskins RB Matt Jones said that he loves the offense and has a chip on his shoulder after not being used properly while in college. 'My college career [ More ]

Derek CarrMay 20 08:53a

Updating a previous report, Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr (finger) is experiencing numbness in his right ring finger. He hopes to avoid surgery through rest and rehab, and no [ More ]

Derek CarrMay 19 06:13p

Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr (finger) has a right ring finger injury that could be surgically repaired. A return for training camp is still achievable, however, according to a source.

L. WashingtonMay 19 05:23p

Pittsburgh Steelers WR L'Damian Washington (undisclosed) was waived/injured Tuesday, May 19.

Shayne GrahamMay 19 03:03p

New Orleans Saints PK Shayne Graham was released Tuesday, May 19. Subsequently, free-agent WR Lance Lewis (49ers) was signed.

Joseph BarksdaleMay 19 02:23p

Free-agent OT Joseph Barksdale (Rams) will sign a one-year deal worth $350,000 with the San Diego Chargers, according to a source. The deal also comes with more than $1 million in incentives available.

Tom BradyMay 19 01:43p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady will continue to appeal his four-game suspension, despite owner Robert Kraft saying the team will not appeal the discipline levied against them.

Jed CollinsMay 18 03:32p

Dallas Cowboys FB Jed Collins was released Monday, May 18, and FB Tyler Clutts was re-signed to an undisclosed contract.

Tyler CluttsMay 18 03:32p

Dallas Cowboys FB Jed Collins was released Monday, May 18, and FB Tyler Clutts was re-signed to an undisclosed contract.

Lache SeastrunkMay 18 02:42p

Tennessee Titans RB Lache Seastrunk was released Monday, May 18.

Jimmy GaroppoloMay 17 08:42p

New England Patriots QB Jimmy Garoppolo's quick decision making and accuracy fit well with New England's playbook that includes quick-rhythm passes as part of the foundation, and Bucky Brooks [ More ]

Zach HockerMay 17 04:42p

The New Orleans Saints have signed free-agent PK Zach Hocker (Dolphins).

Joseph RandleMay 16 07:32p

Dallas Cowboys RB Joseph Randle has the skills to lead the team's backfield in 2015 but he'll need to work on his off-field issues, according to Jon Machota of [ More ]

Matt CasselMay 15 07:52p

Buffalo Bills QB Matt Cassel is likely to enter Week 1 of the season as the team's backup quarterback, in the opinion of The Buffalo News' Vic Carucci. He [ More ]

Santana MossMay 15 07:12p

Free-agent WR Santana Moss (Redskins) is not ready to hang up his cleats and retire this offseason. 'I'm a free agent right now, you know how they do [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group