Since being drafted in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft, Pittsburgh Steelers rookie running back Le’Veon Bell has been everyone’s favorite to take over as the team’s feature back. The performances of Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer and Rashard Mendenhall (who is now with the Arizona Cardinals) last year made it a top priority for Pittsburgh to upgrade their backfield.
Though Bell has been predicted to start come Week 1, the Steelers’ coaching staff has listed the rookie as the fourth-string running back entering training camp. However, the chances of Bell climbing up the depth chart are very good considering the team’s new offensive scheme.
The Steelers are now implementing a zone-blocking game plan, which is similar to what Bell ran during his days at Michigan State University. In this offense, Bell led the Big Ten with 1,740 rushing yards during the 2012 season. Bell’s familiarity with the scheme has him feeling confident in what he can contribute to the offense this year.
“I ran the stretch a lot at Michigan State,” mentioned Bell. “I’m patient on it. I see the defense kind of flowing. It’s a great complement to the inside run game. Teams can’t just load up the box. We can run outside now. That’s when cutbacks happen.”
In addition to having knowledge of this type of offense, Bell has also entered camp about 10 pounds lighter than he was in college, and he has said that it makes him feel quicker. “I wanted to be lighter; I feel like I move a little better,” Bell said.
The second-round draft pick also touched on how everyone shouldn’t assume that he is a battering ram type of runner simply because of his 6-foot-1, 232-pound stature. “I’m a patient-type of runner. A lot of guys look at me and think I’m a big, physical guy, but I’m more patient than anything. That what makes me successful up to this point.”
Both Redman and Dwyer are primarily known as north-south runners. In this type of offense, Bell’s quickness, athleticism and ability to cut against the grain should give him a much better chance a becoming the Steelers’ feature back for the 2013 season.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google+