One way or another, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell should be in uniform when the team opens up their 2018 regular season against the Cleveland Browns. While new Steelers offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner isn’t expected to try to reinvent the wheel in 2018 when it comes to how Bell will be used, the running back did reveal Monday night during an interview with the NFL Network that the focus this season might ultimately include trying to get him the football more in open space.
“I think a lot of my touches will kind of be the same,” Bell told Kurt Warner when asked if he thinks his overall usage will change in 2018 now that Fichtner will be calling plays. “I don’t think I’ll see less, I don’t think I’ll necessarily see more. I think Randy will find different ways to kind of give me some more open space. Allow me to use my moves and my strength in open space more so against DBs and things like that, instead of going against linebackers and running in-between the tackles. But I think my touches, I may have more catches and less carries, you know, but I think the touches will all be there.”
It’s hard to imagine Bell having more touches in 2018 than he had in 2017. After all, he touched the football 406 times last season with 85 of those coming via receptions. So, could Bell potentially see a small drop in carries in 2018? It’s hard to answer that question right now but if he ultimately does, one wouldn’t think it would be a significant reduction. If anything, perhaps the Steelers offense can get Bell some rest time later in games in 2018 due to large leads.
One knock on Bell throughout his entire NFL career has been his lack of explosive runs of 20 yards or more. He has registered just 27 of those during regular season games and only 5 of those resulted in gains of 40 or more yards. Conversely, Bell has already registered 26 receptions during his career that have resulted in gains of 20 yards or more. Since 2013, Bell’s rookie season, he and Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovani Bernard are tied for the league lead when it comes to receptions that gained 20 or more yards by a running back.