It wasn’t just the optimistic plea from their quarterback, as Ben Roethlisberger said earlier this week. Speaking to the media on Thursday afternoon, Todd Haley confirmed the Pittsburgh Steelers will look to get Le’Veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams on the field at the same time.
“They’re two of our best players,” he said, via Steelers.com. “At times, we’ll probably have to find ways to get them on the field at the same time.”
That could happen in a variety of ways. Both could be lined up in the backfield, that happened once last year, or more often, Bell will be split out wide with Williams in the backfield.
For Haley, this “pony” look is nothing new to him and something he’s seen and done in other cities.
“When I was the head coach at Kansas City, I had Jamaal Charles, Thomas Jones, Dexter McCluster. Jamaal and Dexter both had receiver-like skills. We played a lot of snaps with multiple halfbacks on the field…even back with the New York Jets, we had Curtis Martin and Richie Anderson. Richie was labeled a fullback but he caught 92 balls one year. That’s like having two backs on the field.”
With the latter, that came in 2000, Haley’s final year as the wide receiver’s coach for the Jets. Not to be a stickler for something that happened 16 years ago, but Anderson caught 88 passes for 853 yards and two scores while carrying the ball 27 times.
Curtis Martin also had 70 receptions and were the leading receivers on that Jets team. Funny enough, that Jets squad also have Bob Sutton, the Kansas City Chiefs’ defensive coordinator, who was then their linebackers coach.
McCluster, a Haley draft pick, caught 64 passes in 2011 while carrying the ball 114 times, by far his best year in the league.
Haley told reporters Bell pesters him to be used more as a receiver. He also briefly explained what makes him one of the best receivers at his position.
“Some guys are just more natural catchers. He’s just got more natural receiver skills. It starts with his build. He’s a little longer and leaner than you see most backs which gives him great flexibility. But his ball skills are very good, his hands are very good, and he enjoys it. He takes great pride in it.”
Bell caught 81 passes in 2014, a Steelers record for the position. Even Williams was on pace for 70 receptions. Given the talent and trust Roethlisberger has in Bell, expect him to make his return with at least a couple receptions and potentially, a splash play.