When investing a high draft pick on a player, a franchise shows just how valuable they feel that player could be to their team. The Pittsburgh Steelers expressed that this year when they selected running back Le’Veon Bell in the second round this past April.
Before their first preseason game, Pittsburgh’s head coach Mike Tomlin announced that Bell, who was the team’s fourth-string running back at the time, was going to play a significant amount of snaps with the first-team offense. Now the Steelers have shown even more faith in the rookie by promoting him to co-starter along with veteran running back Isaac Redman.
Granted, Bell did prove that he is capable of carrying the rock by leading the Big Ten in rushing in 2012, and he has shown flashes of what he can do in training camp. However, Bell has yet to play in an actual NFL game, and despite the lack of experience, Pittsburgh’s coaching staff saw it fit to label him as a first-stringer.
Even after the impressive showing by fellow running back LaRod Stephens-Howling in the first preseason game versus the New York Giants, Bell still finds himself as the front-runner as the no. 1 back.
I must admit, I did say that Bell would be the starting running back when the regular season rolls around, but I never pictured him scurrying up the ladder without playing one down in a game. I’m sure had Bell not been held out of the first preseason game due to soreness in his knee, he would have shown everyone that he was worthy of being Pittsburgh’s feature back.
This goes to show everyone just how important Bell is to the organization, or just how desperate the Steelers are in trying to improve a rushing attack that was ranked 26th last season. Personally, I don’t think it’s a sign of desperation. I see it as a smart move that should help revitalize Pittsburgh’s offense.
Having missed the first preseason game, Bell should get plenty of opportunities this Sunday when the Steelers face the Washington Redskins in the second week of the preseason.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google+