Last night against the Houston Texans, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell posted a new career-high in receiving yards. And then he lost it after Ben Roethlisberger tossed him the ball to avoid a sack, resulting in a six-yard loss.
Thus, instead of posting a new career-high 94 yards through the air, he merely tied his career-high 88 yards receiving, which he first accomplished in the season opener.
But he did set a new career-high with eight receptions, and even more significantly, he recorded the first receiving touchdown of his career. It was, in fact, only the second time he’d gotten into the end zone this season.
If it were not already clear by now, Bell is quickly becoming one of the most dangerous dual threats in the entire league. He currently has 339 receiving yards through seven games on 36 receptions, averaging 9.4 yards per catch.
Only Chicago’s Matt Forte among running backs has more receiving yards. Forte actually leads the league with 52 receptions—two more than Antonio Brown’s 50—averaging 8.4 yards per reception for 436 yards. They are the only two running backs in the top 50 players in the league in receiving yards.
Bell is on pace to record 775 receiving yards this year to go along with 1370 receiving yards, which would obviously put him comfortably over 200 total yards for the season. He has already gained more yards in his first two seasons than anybody else in the history of the Steelers franchise, with nine games left to play in his second year.
He has posted at least 40 receiving yards in four of his seven games played this year, averaging not much under 50 receiving yards per game, and that is on top of averaging 86 rushing yards per game.
His 938 total yards from scrimmage in seven games averages out to exactly 134 yards per game, making him and Brown the only teammates in the league to average over 100 yards per game, as the latter leads the league with 719 receiving yards in seven games.
Bell continues to trail only Dallas’ DeMarco Murray in yards from scrimmage, as he has 1072 yards already.
But Bell is the only player in the league with at least 500 yards rushing to go along with 300 yards or more through the air, though Forte is not far behind.
And his success has so much to do with his receiving ability, because it makes defenses difficult to game plan for him when he can so easily an naturally motion from the backfield to out wide or vice versa. He did just that on his touchdown reception last night, and that’s got to scare some defensive coordinators around the league.
Consider this—Bell is third among second-year players in receiving yards—including the third-round wide receiver the Steelers drafted and is now starting for them, as well as every other receiver drafted but two.
Put simply, his full skill set makes him a rare talent. He could get into the end zone a little more often, but it’s hard to complain when your starting running back averages over 6.1 yards per touch. Or when he has one fumble in 442 career touches.