There are a number of factors that could be attributed to the poor production from Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell on Sunday, during which he rushed for just 32 yards on 10 attempts and caught three of six passing targets for 15 total yards.
For one thing, he saw far fewer snaps, and touches, than he normally does. He played about 75 percent of the Steelers’ offensive snaps when he averaged 90 percent a year ago. His 13 touches are less than half of the 28 that he averaged per game in 2016.
And that is a problem for a running back who acknowledges that—as most do, frankly—he gets better as a game goes on and he gets more touches. He told reporters, “the more I am involved, the better I get throughout the course of the game”, according to the team’s website.
“I start figuring out players and how they are playing, the game speed and that”, he said. “Plus I feel like I am in better shape, so I think over the course of the game, in the third quarter people feel like they are in the third quarter and I feel like I am just getting started. That is what I pride myself off of and I am going to continue to do that”.
Still, while he would like to see the ball more, he is not going to pound the table and create an issue for the team because he doesn’t feel he is being used enough. “However they plan to use me, I will be available”, he said. “I will make sure I put everything out there on the line and do the best I can”.
on Sunday, he ceded eight of the Steelers’ 57 meaningful snaps on the afternoon to rookie running back James Conner. The team also used four-receiver sets on nine occasions, during which they removed the running back.
“I am just going to go out there and run the plays called to the best of my ability and make plays when the opportunity presents itself”, Bell added while being asked about his approach coming off of an unproductive season debut after sitting out the preseason. “I have to get better at that. Hopefully this week I can do that”.
But since we can, let’s talk Bell and how he was used on Sunday. The Steelers lined him up as a wide receiver—on the outside four times, in the slot once—with the running back being targeted once on those plays, resulting in an incompletion.
He spent the rest of his time in the backfield, 36 snaps in all, excluding the victory formation. He was paired with a fullback just five times, with only four of them being on pass plays, and only two of those four were not negated by penalties. On 28 passing snaps, Bell was asked to stay in to pass protect on nine occasions.