The days of seeing rookies for the Pittsburgh Steelers ride the bench are slowly coming to an end. In years past we’ve seen center Maurkice Pouncey and right guard David DeCastro in the starting lineup in their respective rookie seasons (even though DeCastro didn’t get to start the regular season due to injury).
Furthermore, this year rookie linebacker Jarvis Jones has a fair shot of edging out Jason Worilds for a starting spot on the defensive side of the ball. However, the one rookie who has the best chance of getting a firm hold of a starting job is running back Le’Veon Bell.
Head coach Mike Tomlin announced that Bell will more than likely get a good number of carries with the first-team offense in the Steelers’ first preseason game versus the New York Giants this Saturday night. Tomlin said:
“Don’t be surprised if you see Le’Veon getting some snaps with those guys. I think he has earned that. I think how he is running the ball speaks for itself.”
There has been no indication that Bell will start the game, but hearing Tomlin say that the second-round draft pick “has earned” his right to play with the first-string offense speaks volumes. Tomlin has never been the type of coach to hold back on speaking his mind. Everything that the seven-year head coach says can be considered 100-percent genuine.
Besides Tomlin’s sincere remarks, there is a good reason why Pittsburgh’s coaching staff is giving Bell this opportunity. The Steelers, as well as all of Steeler Nation, want to see how Bell will handle the load of being a three-down back. Last year’s 26th ranked rushing offense was by a committee of three running backs, and surely that is something that Tomlin and the rest of the Steelers want to get away from in 2013.
As the regular season gets closer and closer, it seems that Bell’s chances of cracking the starting lineup for Week 1 are becoming more realistic. If Bell has a good showing in this week’s game against the Giants, I think that it will be safe to say that he’ll be well on his way to being Pittsburgh’s feature back.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google+