Le'Veon Bell finds end zone twice in NFL debut
Le'Veon Bell made his NFL debut in Week 4, and what the Steelers saw out of their 2013 second-round pick was very encouraging. Despite having not played in a game since the second week of the preseason, Bell was ready to rock against the Minnesota Vikings in London on Sunday. The 21-year-old bruiser played 60 of the Steelers' 79 offensive snaps, and he touched the ball 20 times.
The Steelers handed the ball to Bell 16 times out of the backfield, and he managed to rack up 57 yards on the ground (3.6 YPC), also punching the ball into the end zone two times. He added four catches for 27 yards, showing his underrated versatility.
Bell was the epitome of a workhorse at Michigan State last year, racking up an FBS-high 414 offensive touches - a staggering number. He has proven that he can carry the mail in the backfield, and the fact that he played so many snaps in his first game as a pro suggests that the Steelers are ready to truly feature their prized young runner. Bell's snap count also indicates that he is fully recovered from the foot injury that held him out the first three weeks - an ailment that was once thought to be potentially season-ending.
The Steelers have a Week 5 bye, which is great timing for Bell, who will have two weeks to shake off the bumps and bruises of his first NFL game. He'll also have plenty of time to study what he did right and wrong on the field, allowing him to adjust and improve for the middle stretch of the season.
When the team returns to the field against the New York Jets in Week 6, Bell will be ready to take on a full-fledged workhorse role. With his every-down skill set, Bell will likely play an even higher percentage of the snaps than he did in his debut. I wouldn't be surprised to see his 16 carries from Week 4 end up being one of his lowest totals by the end of the season.
The Steelers drafted this kid to be their bell cow, and now that he is healthy, they are ready to work him as hard as any running back in the league. From what we saw on Sunday, it looks like Bell will be up to the task. Steelers fans: the exasperating days of Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer are over (barring injury, of course) - you have a nice new feature back in Le'Veon Bell.