2013 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

Terrelle PryorApr 23 08:58a

The Seattle Seahawks acquired QB Terrelle Pryor from the Oakland Raiders Monday, April 21, in exchange for a seventh-round draft pick in this year's draft. He will compete with [ More ]

Matt RyanApr 22 10:53p

Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith is calling for major improvement on both sides of the line of scrimmage. He fears the team could bottom out for a second [ More ]

EJ ManuelApr 22 08:13p

Buffalo Bills QB EJ Manuel (knees) is healthy entering voluntary workouts and feels normal and had no limitations during the Tuesday, April 22 conditioning program. Bills head coach Doug [ More ]

Rolando McClainApr 22 07:53p

Updating a previous report, the Baltimore Ravens have officially placed LB Rolando McClain on the reserve-retired list for a second time. The Ravens will retain McClain's rights if he changes his mind again.

Eli ManningApr 22 07:33p

New York Giants QB Eli Manning (ankle) expects to be 100 percent for the beginning of training camp. Manning has no concerns about learning the Giants' new playbook, instead [ More ]

Ray RiceApr 22 04:43p

Baltimore Ravens RB Ray Rice looks great physically, according to strength and conditioning coach Bob Roguck. 'He's doing some things differently as far as his diet and so forth, [ More ]

David WilsonApr 22 02:43p

New York Giants RB David Wilson (neck) said he is still waiting for a clear MRI to be medically cleared, but is currently ahead of schedule.

Julio JonesApr 22 01:13p

Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones (foot) will be limited during the team's offseason workouts while he recovers from offseason foot surgery. 'Julio is participating with our athletic performance department,' [ More ]

Eli ManningApr 22 01:03p

New York Giants QB Eli Manning (ankle) said his ankle is progressing but he does not have a timetable for his return to the field. Manning is currently in a walking boot.

Stevie BrownApr 22 12:33p

New York Giants FS Stevie Brown (knee) said he feels like he is ready to go when the Giants hit the field after recovering from a serious knee injury. [ More ]

Will HillApr 22 10:33a

The New York Giants are likely to cut FS Will Hill after his third potential drug suspension.

Josh MorganApr 22 09:52a

Chicago Bears WR Joshua Morgan is likely to compete for the No. 3 or 4 wide receiver role this year, and he'll compete with WRs Domenik Hixon, Eric Weems [ More ]

Will HillApr 22 09:33a

New York Giants FS Will Hill is facing a year-long suspension after reportedly failing another drug test. He will appeal what would be his third drug-related suspension.

Kyle WilliamsApr 21 09:33p

The Kansas City Chiefs re-signed WR Kyle Williams Monday, April 21. Terms of the deal were undisclosed.

Colt AndersonApr 21 07:12p

The Indianapolis Colts signed free-agent FS Colt Anderson (Eagles) to an undisclosed deal Monday, April 21.

Jamar TaylorApr 21 06:43p

Miami Dolphins CB Jamar Taylor (groin) is healthy following hernia surgery and began offseason workouts with his teammates Monday, April 21. Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said he expects [ More ]

Dustin KellerApr 21 05:42p

Eugene Parker, agent for free-agent TE Dustin Keller (knee), said Keller is ready to participate in offseason workouts when he signs with a team.

Eric FisherApr 21 05:12p

Kansas City Chiefs OT Eric Fisher (shoulder, hernia) said there is no timetable for his return following multiple surgeries, but he doesn't think he'll be out for long. 'He's [ More ]

Josh MorganApr 21 04:02p

The Chicago Bears have signed free-agent WR Joshua Morgan (Redskins) to a one-year deal. Financial terms were not disclosed.

A.J. GreenApr 21 03:32p

Cincinnati Bengals WR A.J. Green said he has added around six pounds this offseason, because he wants to be more physical as a way to beat coverage at the [ More ]

Michael VickApr 21 02:42p

New York Jets QB Geno Smith said he believes he will be the starting quarterback this upcoming season even though the team added QB Michael Vick this offseason. He [ More ]

Navorro BowmanApr 21 02:12p

The San Francisco 49ers plan to place LB NaVorro Bowman (knee) on the Physically Unable to Perform list when training camp begins, because he is not expected to be [ More ]

Eric FisherApr 21 02:02p

Kansas City Chiefs OT Eric Fisher (shoulder, hernia) underwent shoulder surgery and had a procedure to fix a sports hernia. He's currently rehabbing in Kansas City.

Tony CarterApr 21 01:22p

The Denver Broncos signed DT Mitch Unrein to his restricted free-agent tender Monday, April 21. CB Tony Carter, SS Duke Ihenacho and LB Brandon M. Marshall all signed their exclusive rights tenders.

Rolando McClainApr 21 01:02p

Baltimore Ravens LB Rolando McClain is retiring from the NFL again Monday, April 21. 'I gotta follow my heart. It ain't football. If football made me complete I would [ More ]

Tony RomoApr 21 12:42p

Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo (back) will take part in the team's voluntary offseason program beginning Monday, April 21, according to a source. Players are allowed to lift weights, [ More ]

Marcus LattimoreApr 20 09:12p

San Francisco 49ers RB Marcus Lattimore (knee) is not expected to be restricted in any way when offseason workouts begin.

Michael EgnewApr 20 08:42p

The Miami Dolphins likely will add at least two more tight ends this offseason that will compete with TE Michael Egnew for a roster spot.

Armon BinnsApr 20 12:02a

Miami Dolphins WR Armon Binns is currently the team's No. 4 receiver, but the Dolphins have had discussions about WR Rishard Matthews replacing Binns at the spot, according to a source.

Tyrone CrawfordApr 20 12:02a

Dallas Cowboys DT Tyrone Crawford (Achilles') is expected to be ready for the team's offseason program, and he is expected to be a key piece to the defense this season.

M. Jones-DrewApr 20 12:02a

If healthy, Oakland Raiders RB Darren McFadden is expected to be the team's starting tailback with RB Maurice Jones-Drew as his backup.

Brian HartlineApr 20 12:02a

Miami Dolphins WR Brian Hartline (knee) is expected to be ready for the start of mini camp, according to a source. He suffered a torn posterior cruciate ligament in the 2013 regular season finale.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group