When it comes to his future with the Pittsburgh Steelers, a lot of people right now would prefer that running back Le’Veon Bell not even have one, period. The sixth-year veteran, who has so far held out of participation in the first seven weeks of their 2018 regular season, has burned a lot of bridges among fans, and perhaps among some more important people as well.
One person who is more than ready to welcome him back, however, is the person whose participation would most suffer from his return: running back James Conner.
Despite the fact that he has accomplished things in Bell’s absence with the Steelers that the multiple-time All-Pro has never done, the second-year Pitt product would gladly welcome back the guy that he only got a few carries per game behind during his rookie season.
“Le’Veon is cool people. That’s my dude”, he told Ron Cook recently. “We all know what Le’Veon brings to the table. We’ll see what happens when he gets here”. Likewise, Bell was impressed with what Conner was doing on Sunday, Tweeting out his support during the game as he rushed for 110 yards and two touchdowns.
“I’m excited when he gets back”, Conner added. “The duo, ain’t nobody going to stop us”. That is if the Steelers choose to utilize both running backs. While it would seem like a good idea, provided that both of them are effective, the simple fact of the matter is that Head Coach Mike Tomlin’s track record does not favor usage of multiple backs while the starter is healthy.
This is a very rare if not unique situation, however. What we currently have is a new starter who has already proven that he is capable of fulfilling that role, among the top players in rushing yards, yards from scrimmage, scoring, and in usage. And then we have a (hypothetically) returning player who has previously already shown that he can do that as well.
So if you have two players both proven capable of doing the job, why not use both of them to do it?
In the meantime, some on the team have downplayed Bell’s return and possible role, in particular Ben Roethlisberger, who has already questioned how quickly he would be able to be effective once he returns, given all the time that he has missed. He has also gone on record in saying that he would push for Conner to continue to play.
As for myself, I am all for what is best for the Steelers in 2018, in what most improves their odds of claiming a Super Bowl title. If that means getting playing time for both Conner and Bell, then I am in support of that. Whatever works. My feelings don’t matter in this.