It’s no secret the Pittsburgh Steelers are giving Le’Veon Bell one of the league’s heaviest workloads. He’s leading the league with 194 carries, on pace for a whopping 388 carries (and that doesn’t count receptions). During interviews, Bell has said he embraces the workload, but he may have let out a little frustration after today’s practice.
From his Snapchat, Bell talked about how hard the team was working him. He added a caption of “lol I’m retiring after this year” alongside it, though I think we can safely think that’s a joke (and wait for the clickbait headlines with that in the title).
Here’s the video, via our Daniel Valente. Some slight NSFW language included.
The key portion of what Bell said if you’re unable to watch the clip.
“I ain’t going to lie to you all. I’m tired as hell. They be running me into the ground at practice. Every damn rep. Well, not every rep. JC be getting me a couple of breathers here and there. But god damn bro, Thursday’s the worst day of practice.”
Bell went on to joke about why he signed up for football in the first place, saying he should’ve played lacrosse instead. He concluded it by saying football is “too much on my body.” Also worth pointing out that in the snap before these ones, Bell sounded excited for practice, chanting that it was time to go to work and get better. So this isn’t someone who is dreading coming to practice.
But it certainly runs counter to what Bell has said publicly in the past. Previously, he’s embraced getting a heavy workload and being the bellcow. Once, when asked how many more games of 30+ carries he could handle, Bell quipped back, “How many games are left?”
And Bell has told reporters he avoids big hits on most carries, unlike most other backs in the league. But there’s no denying the Steelers have put all their eggs in Bell’s basket to lead them to victory and close out several of the past games.
He already has three games of at least 30 carries, more than he’s had in the rest of his career (two). An alarming statistic, no matter what the rationale is.
Recently, Todd Haley was asked about monitoring Bell’s workload.
“We’ve talked about this a lot. He’s a great back and that’s something we talk about a bunch, not just with him but with all players. It’s something that Coach T [Mike Tomlin] does a great job of keeping track of.”
Pittsburgh’s plan may be to run Bell now to save him for late in the season. Rest him in Week 17 and hopefully a first round bye. But in the meantime, they may have to tweak their strategy, at least in practice, to keep Bell fresh and an asset the rest of the way.