Le’Veon Bell Rejuvenates Ground Game With Personal Bests

Second-year Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell has already rushed for more yards than any back in team history during his first two seasons.

Through the first 24 games of his career, he has amassed 1811 yards on the ground, with 860 coming in his rookie season, and 951 coming in the first 11 games of the 2014 season.

But that doesn’t put into full perspective just how much he’s improved as a runner from year one to year two. Therefore, consider the following. Bell has 951 yards this season on 195 carries. In the first 195 carries of his rookie season, he had only 639 yards. The difference comes out to about +1.6 yards per carry.

He put on a masterful show on the ground last night against the Tennessee Titans after three straight weeks of rushing for less than four yards per carry, rushing for 204 yards on 33 carries, both of which are easily career highs. His previous best numbers were 26 and 147.

He became the first Steelers back to put up over 200 yards on the ground since 2010; it was also the first game of his career in which he put up over 200 all-purpose yards, reaching 197 in Week Three this year. He finished the day with 222 yards, adding two receptions for 18 yards.

Those two receptions leave him with 57 on the year, which ranks tied for 11th league-wide and is second among running backs—third among non-wide receivers. His 484 receiving yards are also second-most among running backs, and 51st-most league-wide.

With 951 yards on the ground and 484 yards through the air, his 1435 total yards vaults him back into second in the league in total yards behind only DeMarco Murray, whose 1233 rushing yards and 281 receiving yards make him the only player thus far to eclipse the 1500-yard mark.

After his 222-yard explosion, Bell is back on pace for nearly 2100 all-purpose yards from scrimmage in his second season, which would greatly overshadow the 1259 that he gained as a rookie.

He also has just one fumble now in 541 career touches, which certainly only adds to his value.

In fact, the only area in which he has not been able to achieve superior production has been getting in the end zone.

He recorded just his second rushing touchdown of the season last night, and the first season the season opener. He also caught two touchdown passes during the Steelers’ three-game winning streak at home.

One last interesting factoid about last night’s game for Bell: it was just the second game in his career in which he took every designed run for the offense. Only a four-yard Ben Roethlisberger scramble prevented him from taking every carry. A Roethlisberger scramble and Shaun Suisham 12-yard loss on a botched hold in Baltimore during Week 13 last year were the only other runs in that game.

This factoid may become more important than you’d think if there’s anything to be made of reports about LeGarrette Blount over the course of the last month.

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