Le'Veon Bell set to make NFL debut in Week 4
Okay, so maybe Bell isn't quite the same size as Bettis - "The Bus" was a little shorter and about 10-20 pounds heavier - but Bell does bring a similar head-down, run-you-over kind of attitude. He embodies what Steelers football is all about, and following a season in which the Steelers had to waver from their ground-and-pound ways, they were excited to get back to the brand of football that won them six Super Bowl championships.
Unfortunately, Bell went down in the Steelers' second preseason game with a foot injury. To make matters worse, it was believed to be a Lisfranc injury - the type of ailment that has recently derailed the seasons of Maurice Jones-Drew, Santonio Holmes, and Darren McFadden. The Steelers have been forced to resort to their unappealing backup options through the first three weeks of the 2013 season.
The Steelers ranked 28th in yards per rushing attempt last year, and guess where they rank this year - 28th. General manager Kevin Colbert seems to believe that it is poor running back play - not the offensive line - that has caused his squad's failure to generate any production on the ground. Fortunately, they may have the savior of their rushing attack suited up in black and gold this weekend.
Le'Veon Bell participated in practice leading up to the Steelers' Week 3 contest, but was inactive on game day. Since Sunday night's loss to the Bears, however, the team has confirmed reports that Bell will make his season debut this weekend. Head coach Mike Tomlin even said that Bell may start at running back, suggesting that he has looked good in practices over the past week or so.
The Steelers are extremely high on Bell and are also eager to get their ground game working. Before the season, Bell was a candidate to top 300 touches as the every-down feature back in Pittsburgh - his 414 touches at school last year suggest he could handle the massive workload. Considering the struggles of the Steelers' other runners so far this year, Bell will likely be used as a bell cow as soon as he is fully healthy and in game shape. He's going to be in for a massive workload for the majority of the remainder of the season.
It's tough to say just how much work Bell will get in his first game back, however, so I'd probably steer clear of him in fantasy leagues as long as I had another viable option. Of course, he'll be up against a Vikings defense that has given up over a hundred rushing yards in each of their games this year, so Bell does have some nice upside. Even so, I'd prefer to wait and see on Bell, let him get another two weeks of practice in (the Steelers have a Week 5 bye), and unleash him once I know he's ready to carry the mail.