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Bell, Steelers Navigating Cautious Path That Leads To ‘Real Football’

When it comes to spring workouts, your mileage may vary depending on your length of tenure and the level of success that you have achieved in the past. No doubt Pittsburgh Steelers third-year running back Fitzgerald Toussaint, who has little in-game experience in the NFL and is in his first offseason with the team, has much to gain from OTAs and minicamp, beginning tomorrow.

In spite of the fact that he has accrued two NFL seasons, and is in fact 26 years old after being originally an undrafted free agent in 2014, there is plenty left for him to gain from his nine career regular season games played, with 24 carries and three receptions to his name.

Le’Veon Bell, in contrast, may be just 24 years old in comparison, but he is entering his fourth season as a starter, has a first-team All-Pro year under his belt, and is widely regarded as being at the precipice of his position. He was just ranked 41 on the NFL Network’s list of the top 100 players of last season, in spite of the fact that he was limited to six games.

It goes without saying, then, considering the bona fides that already litter his resume, that OTAs might not mean a great deal to Bell in terms of what he can accomplish with respect to furthering his game, even if he is far from a grisly veteran, in fact just set to finish off his rookie contract this season.

It made headlines, understandably, when Bell came out for the team’s first OTA session soon after the draft, considering that nobody had a real clear, fixed idea of where he might be in his recovery from a season-ending knee injury that he suffered midway through the year in 2015.

Of course, he only worked in some individual drills on that first day, even if onlookers were impressed by how he ran, particularly in his routes, but he has not practiced again with the team since, nor is he anticipated to participate during the minicamp sessions that begin tomorrow. He may even be excused in order to rehabilitate and train elsewhere.

But that isn’t particularly to Bell, nor to his running mate, DeAngelo Williams, who told reporters after a recent OTA session that he will be there “[as] soon as it’s time to play real football”, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, who wrote about it a few days back.

The only area of interest as it pertains to Bell during this spring and in the early summer is simply how his knee is recovering, because he doesn’t exactly need to undergo a crash course in executing an offense that he has been running, and which has been stable, since he was drafted.

‘Football in shorts’ undoubtedly has its values, and the level of value differs on a sliding scale of variables depending on the player and circumstance. For Bell, that first OTA session was valuable. For four-time All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey, who missed all of last year, he doesn’t want to take a rep off. There are different paths to take to ultimately get to the same destination, at which ‘real football’ resides.

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