During his Tuesday morning radio show, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said he hopes the team doesn’t run running back Le’Veon Bell into the ground. On Wednesday, the veteran signal-caller clarified those comments.
“I know that we need to get him the ball and that’s running and passing. He played 80-something snaps in that football game and that’s kind of unheard of for a running back, especially to take the beating that he does. So as long as he stays healthy that’s what matters to me,” said Roethlisberger. “He has put so much into and dedicated so much time into his physical conditioning. His strength, conditioning, all those things. So as long as he feels good with it I’m happy. I just know how important he is to be on that football field for us.”
Through 12 games, Bell has 281 touches and only Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray has more. Only 216 of Bell’s touches are rushes, however, and that puts him on pace for 288 for the season.
After the Steelers waived running back LeGarrette Blount following the pre-bye week game against the Tennessee Titans, they were left with rookies Dri Archer and Josh Harris to back up Bell. In the loss this past Sunday to the New Orleans Saints, Archer played only two snaps while Harris failed to see the field on offense.
During his Tuesday press conference, head coach Mike Tomlin didn’t seem too concerned about overworking Bell moving forward.
“He has the pedigree for it,” said Tomlin. “That is one of the things that attracted us to him in the draft. He played on a talented offense up there at Michigan State his sophomore year, but then his junior year a number of those guys were in the NFL. A lot of the football went through him his last year at Michigan State. All you had to do was watch him over the course of that season and gain a level of comfort with his ability to tote the load.
“During his time here he has proven he is capable of doing that on the NFL stage not only in terms of the running game, but his inclusion in the passing game. He is going to get the bulk of the carries. He is a highly conditioned guy, he is a mentally tough guy. He is a competitor. Personally I think he is built for it and is excited about having an opportunity to do it for us.”
During his final year at Michigan State, Bell touched the ball a whopping 414 times. On Wednesday, Bell told Scott Brown of ESPN.com that he’s focused on the here and now currently and that he’s not worried about all of these hits early on in his career possibly taking years off the back of it as he knows the next hit he takes very well could be his last.
At some point during the final four games you would think that Bell will need a few plays off, so that means that Archer and Harris could each see a little more playing time moving forward.
As for Roethlisberger, he knows Bell’s value to the offense.
“We need to have 26 (Le’Veon Bell) on the field because he’s one of the best in the game,” he said.