To say that Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell was the team’s offensive bell cow during the regular season is a bit of an understatement. After all, not only did Bell lead the NFL in total snaps played by a running back during the regular season with 945, he also led the league in total touches as well with 406. All of those resulted in 1,946 yards from scrimmage, which was good for second-most in the NFL in 2017 behind only Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley. With all of that said, the Steelers were able to save some wear and tear on Bell’s body to close out the regular season.
After averaging 27.6 touches per game in the Steelers first 14 games of the 2017 regular season in 899 offensive snaps played, Bell touched the football just 19 times and played 46 total offensive snaps in the team’s final two regular season games. All of that playing time came in the Steelers Week 16 win over the Houston Texans as the former second-round draft pick out of Michigan State was held out of the regular season finale against the Cleveland Browns. With the Steelers having a first-round playoff bye this week, Bell will have even more time to rest any bumps and bruises on his body that may have accumulated.
In short, Bell should be raring to go for the Steelers first playoff game a week from this coming Sunday. Last season, Bell also sat out the regular season finale after having touched the football a total of 336 times in 781 offensive snaps. After the one week off, he recorded 174 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns on 31 total touches in the Steelers Wildcard Round win over the Miami Dolphins. The next weekend in the Steelers Divisional Round win over the Kansas City Chiefs, Bell registered 166 more total yards from scrimmage on 32 total touches. However, a groin injury suffered early in the Steelers AFC Championship Round loss to the New England Patriots resulted in him exiting the contest in the first quarter and after touching the football just 6 times in total.
If things go well for the Steelers, Bell will, at most, touch the football 60 times over the course of what we all hope will be two more Steelers wins. Then, and assuming the Steelers are ultimately crowned AFC Champions, Bell will then get two more weeks of much needed rest prior to playing in the Super Bowl in Minnesota.
Bell reportedly said Wednesday that it’s night and day physically for him this year compared to this time a year ago and that he feels great right now, according to Eric Hagman of 93.7 The Fan.
Do Bells rust if not struck very often over the course of several weeks? In the case of Pittsburgh’s Bell, I kind of doubt it.