So far this season, the good has significantly outweighed the bad for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Everything from injuries to inconsistent play has contributed to the team’s 0-3 start, and most would think that things can’t get any worse.
Amidst the chaos, the Steelers’ situation could be on the verge of improving. Just last week, tight end Heath Miller returned to the lineup for the first time this year after reconstructive knee surgery, adding a much-needed dimension to the passing game. Now, entering the fourth week of the regular season, rookie running back Le’Veon Bell is expected to make his NFL debut when Pittsburgh faces off against the Minnesota Vikings in London.
Bell, the Steelers’ 2013 second-round draft pick, was limited in action during training camp and the preseason, and missed the first three games of the regular season with a Lisfranc sprain. The amount of playing time Bell will get is uncertain, but all of Steeler Nation is hoping that his presence will help improve a horrendous running game.
Currently, Pittsburgh’s ground attack is ranked 31st in the league, a step back from the team’s 26th ranking from last year.
I most certainly hope that Bell will be able to rejuvenate the Steelers’ running game, but I don’t think that he’ll be as productive as many expect behind a weak offensive line that’s still looking for stability. In last week’s loss to the Chicago Bears, Pittsburgh’s coaching staff shuffled the offensive front by having Kelvin Beachum play both the right tackle and left tackle positions.
In addition to poor pass protection, the O-line was unable to control the line of scrimmage on run plays, resulting in a measly 73-yard output from the Steelers’ running backs.
Bell’s contribution to Pittsburgh’s offense this coming week can only help the Steelers’ production. However, it will be the play of the offensive line that will dictate the success of Bell and the rest of Pittsburgh’s running game.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google+