The journey toward the Super Bowl is now well under way with the Pittsburgh Steelers back practicing at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, still informally referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility. With the regular season standing in their way on the path to a Lombardi, there will be questions for them to answer along the way.
We have asked and answered a lot of questions during the preseason and through training camp, but much of the answer-seeking ends in the regular season, and teams simply have to make do with what they have available to them. Still, there will always be questions for us.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the regular season and beyond as they develop, looking for the answers as we evaluate the makeup of the Steelers on their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.
Question: Will Le’Veon Bell pick up where he left off in his first game action since the groin injury last season?
While he was in contact with some of his coaches and teammates over the course of the spring and summer, Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell was largely persona non grata for much of the offseason, holding off on signing his franchise tender until Monday in order to allow him to keep out of training camp and the preseason.
Prior to their heading to Latrobe, the two parties failed to work out a long-term contract that would keep Bell in Pittsburgh, so, knowing that he would once again be heading into a contract season, the two-time All-Pro made the business decision to keep away until the meaningless games were out of the way.
Now, the last time he was actually on the field for a meaningful game, he ultimately had to tap out due to a groin injury that he was already dealing with, which ultimately got the better of him. He had surgery to repair it during the offseason, and that took time to heal.
Before that, however, he was playing some of the best football of his career, setting a new franchise record for the most rushing yards in a single postseason, and posting the third-highest yards from scrimmage per game number during the regular season in NFL history.
The Steelers need him to be that player again, or at least to be able to be that player again, even though they should have a more complete team this year on both sides of the ball. Earlier this week he said he was a little winded, but just a couple of days ago he said he believed there was no need to ease his workload.
Bell has missed the start of each of the past two seasons due to suspension, so he knows what it’s like to miss time and catch up midstream, but this time he’ll be doing it after missing training camp and going right to the games that matter. So the question is simply, will he pick up where he left off, or will he have to build up to get back to where he was?