Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell has already caught 28 passes for 251 yards through the first six games and that puts him pass to catch 74 for the season. That pace, however, might be increased over the course of the next several weeks judging by the comments made Wednesday by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger during his weekly talk with the media.
“We’ve done a lot of new things and we put things in that we haven’t even shown yet for him to be more of a receiver. Use him out of the backfield, use him lining up outside because he creates mismatch problems because of how talented he is,” Roethlisberger said.
Even though Bell entered the season with off the field problems stemming from him being arrested and charged with possession of marijuana and a DUI back in August, Roethlisberger believes the Steelers former second-round draft pick has done a great job of blocking that out and not letting it interfere with his weekly preparation on the practice field and play in games.
“No doubt about it,” said Roethlisberger. “I think he’s done a great job. I’ve said many times that I think he’s one of the best all-around backs in the game. I think he shows it every week when he blocks, when he runs, when he catches.”
One area of the field where Bell and the rest of the Steelers offense has struggled in the first six games is inside the red zone as the Michigan State product only has one rushing touchdown on the season. Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley said Thursday during his weekly talk with the media that defenses are making it tough for the offense to run in that area.
“When you get down in there tight the game changes, and how the defense can defend you changes, said Haley. “We generally get eight in the box and man-to-man outside. When you are getting that it’s going to be tough sledding running the football.”
Tough sledding or not, the Steelers have to find a way to start punching the football into the end zone on the ground when inside their opponents 10-yard-line. While they work on that, Bell needs to just continue doing what he’s done all season between the 20’s.
Monday night against the Houston Texans, Bell needs just 62 yards from scrimmage to surpass Barry Foster for the most by a Steeler through the first seven games of a season. In addition to that, should he register 100 yards or more from scrimmage in the game, he will extend his team record of recording 100 or more yards in each of the first seven games of a season. Judging by the way Roethlisberger is talking about continuing to use Bell more in the passing game moving forward, he has a good chance of hitting both of those milestones.