The Pittsburgh Steelers might be without one All-Pro skill position player for the next game or so, but they do have the luxury of having another. His name is Le’Veon Bell, and he just so happens to be leading the league in yards from scrimmage.
The fifth-year running back has been waging a war of attrition all throughout the 2017 season, and while it has been a grind, he has been gaining ground more and more, particularly over the course of the past few weeks. And he is ready to shoulder the load even more than he has been until Brown gets back.
In fact, he said, “that was always my original plan”, saying that he “took a rest to make sure I could fulfill the whole season and take as many carries and as many catches as I need to get, and I feel fresh right now. I feel good”. You might recall that he skipped the entire offseason.
But it would be hard to argue that he hasn’t been doing his part. His workload has been absolutely insane. He has totaled 918 of the Steelers’ 1009 snaps played so far, and that includes all plays, from penalties to victory formation snaps. That greater than 90 percent snap ratio is far more than any other running back.
“I’m always the focus of trying to be stopped. Regardless, it’s not going to change how I prepare myself. I’ll go out there and continue to do what I do”, Bell told reporters yesterday when asked about how the gameplan might change in Brown’s absence. “I want to win a Super Bowl. We win these next two games and we have a 1- or a 2-seed”.
He is right, of course. The Steelers control their destiny for the number two seed. If they win their final two games, they will be locked into that slot. If the Patriots given them an assist and manage to lose one of their final two games, then they could even find themselves with the top seed.
Still, Bell knows that it won’t be all on him for the rest of the way, and that it can’t be. Brown will be needed in the postseason if they have any hope of winning the Super Bowl. Or, as his teammate put it, “we’re going to need him when the real money’s on the line”.
Bell has carried the ball 307 times for 1222 yards so far this season, averaging four yards per carry with eight rushing touchdowns. He has also added 80 receptions for an additional 627 receiving yards and another two touchdowns, giving him a total of 387 touches for 1849 yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns.
The running back is just 151 yards away from compiling the second season of his career with at least 2000 yards from scrimmage, and given that he has averaged 132 yards from scrimmage this year. That is likely to happen. He is on pace to finish with 2113 yards from scrimmage on 1397 rushing yards and 716 receiving yards. Two much total touchdowns would establish a new career high of 12.