The calendar has now flipped over to July and that means the Pittsburgh Steelers annual training camp will be getting underway in Latrobe later this month. As usual, we have several series planned to get you ready for this year’s training camp and mine will center around preview profiles of 50 players over the course of the next 25 days. Most of these profiles will be on players who were under contract with the team in 2016.
Up seventh in this series is a 2017 preview profile of running back Le’Veon Bell.
Intro: After sitting out the Steelers first three games of the 2016 season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, Bell had a 178-total yard season debut against the Kansas City Chiefs and did so with only 23 total touches. He would go on to play in the Steelers next 11 regular season games on his way to registering 1,268 rushing yards and seven touchdowns on 261 carries and another 616 yards and two touchdowns on 75 receptions. Bell would ultimately add 357 more yards and two touchdowns on the ground during the playoffs before leaving the AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots early with a groin injury.
Current Strengths: Bell’s extreme patience and vision behind the line of scrimmage are two combined traits that’s tough to match and at times it seems like he even comes to a full-stop for a few seconds. He sets up second level defenders extremely well and his cutting ability has left several defensive players grasping for air in the past. Bell also is great about getting yards after initial contact and very rarely is he driven backwards when hit. Lastly, he has developed into one of the league’s best pass-catching running backs and his pass protection might also be near the tops in the league at the position.
Current Weaknesses: Outside of Bell missing a fair share of games during his first four seasons to injury or suspension, there’s not many huge knocks on him. However, while he’s a very productive running back across several statistical categories, he doesn’t deliver explosive runs as often as you would think he would or like him to. In fact, only 24 regular season runs during his career have gone for 20 yards or more and that’s one every 38 carries. While it’s not a trend or real worrisome item just yet, Bell did fumble four times last season after fumbling just once during his first three years in the NFL.
2017 Outlook: When Bell has been healthy and on the field during his first four years in the league he’s been one of the best in the game at his position. He’s an all-purpose, workhorse back and a very productive one at that. Bell has missed the Steelers first two regular season games of any one year three times since he was drafted and that figures to change in 2017. Assuming he starts and finishes at least 15 regular season games this year, Bell, should register around 1,900-2,000 total yards from scrimmage in addition to scoring double-digit touchdowns.
2017 Base Salary: $12,120,000
2017 Salary Cap Charge: $12,120,000
2017 Health Status: Recovering from offseason groin surgery in March
2016 Health Status: No games missed due to injury but injured groin during playoff run
2016 Regular Season Snaps Played: 781 of 1,083
2016 Stat That Matters: Just 13 of 261 2016 regular season caries resulted in lost yardage and that was best percentage in the league for running backs with at least 120 carries
|Ben Roethlisberger||Cameron Heyward||Jesse James||James Harrison||Antonio Brown|