Last season, the Pittsburgh Steelers brought in Le’Veon Bell a backup running back in LeGarrette Blount who nearly showed him the fast-track to running himself out of the league after the pair was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana.
Bell was also charged with a DUI and has been suspended for the first three games of the 2015 season as a result, pending appeal, while Blount also received a one-game suspension, meaning that neither member of the duo will be present when the Steelers open their season against the New England Patriots, who signed Blount after his mid-season release from Pittsburgh.
Following the trials and tribulations associated with their headache of a running back, the front office this year chose to take a different approach to the backup running back position in veteran DeAngelo Williams, and we have already seen how substantially the personalities of the two have differed.
In fact, we have already discussed on a number of occasions this offseason the potential impact that the veteran Williams might have on Bell, who said that he saw in his new teammate what he hopes to be in several years. And apparently, he really was not kidding about that.
Mark Kaboly writes for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that perhaps the greatest impact that Williams has had on the young All-Pro has had nothing to do with his actions or words since coming to Pittsburgh, but simply in his presence and his stature.
Adding Williams to the backfield has provided Bell with, in Kaboly’s fitting choice of word, “perspective”.
Bell tells Kaboly that he never much thought of the future, or his future, during his first two seasons in the league, let alone in the idea of leaving behind a legacy, preferring to play for the moment, so to speak.
“It never crossed my mind ever before about having a long career”, Bell said, “until when we go DeAngelo”. The former first-round draft pick has put together an admirable nine-year career with the ability to still contribute at the age of 32 as he enters his 10th season in the league.
Approaching 7000 career rushing yards on under 1500 carries, Williams boats a career average of 4.8 yards per carry, adding another 1621 receiving yards on 178 receptions with a combined 53 touchdowns.
“He’s had a long and great career” Bell said of Williams, “and I realized I want to play for a long time, too. I would consider it a great career if I can make it 10 years, and let’s see where the stats are”. After putting up franchise-best numbers last season, perhaps the young back is beginning to get a taste of what he could accomplish.
To that end, he has become more conscious of what it would take to achieve those goals, taking care of his body and making sure that he plays with energy, believing that it is playing tired or fatigued that leads to injury.
Regardless of just how much Williams may have actively contributed to Bell arriving to this epiphany, it’s certainly a boon to find him with a more appropriate role model who he acknowledges has still had a few things to teach the All-Pro about his craft.