I was hoping I wouldn’t have to type Pittsburgh Steelers “Le’Veon Bell” and “injury” in the same sentence. Unless, the words “has not sustained this season” were also in that same sentence.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case… again.
The 2nd year running back out of Michigan State sat out practice on Monday after “tweaking” a hamstring the day before. Great. Is this going to be another repeat of Bell’s rookie season…. just one year ago?
If you’ll remember, Bell sat out most of camp and the first three games of the season after sustaining a nagging foot injury. His recovery was slow, even when he did return, and it took him at least three to four games before he seemed to be in the form he should have been were he healthy throughout the process. He went on the rest of his rookie incident without major incident and ended up with a few bumps and bruises here and there.
One thing that was speculated back then and only begins to resonate even louder as of Monday is – is Le’Veon Bell too much of a used product?
When running backs carry the football enough times, their bodies begin to break down. And quickly. It’s called letting the “wheels fall off.” Something that Mike Tomlin professed when he had Willie Parker as the featured back on his offensive roster. Parker ran the ball over 300 times twice in sequential seasons. That is a ton of carries for a running back, and there’s a mythical (yet eerily accurate) equation that if a running back runs over 300 carries, they sustain some major injuries and essentially end their careers.
How could Bell already be at that status? Bell ran the ball a ton at Michigan State. In fact, he was essentially THE Michigan State’s entire offense in 2012. He ran the ball 382 times. That’s almost 400 and is 60 carries more than what Willie Parker logged in his highest season. He also caught 32 passes and often blocked in passing situations. Quite a bit of stress for a young man such as himself.
When he was drafted, alarm bells went off from many who thought Bell had logged the accumulated carries of a second or third year RB in just one season. Would he be healthy? Would he stay healthy? Once he sustained that foot injury, the nail biting became fierce. Now, once he stayed healthy for the rest of the season after his return, most of those worries went away. But I can bet you the Tums are back out for many in Steeler Nation who are worried that the Steelers running game is once again in jeopardy.
Is it really? Should the Steelers be worried?
Back up and veteran bruiser running back LeGarrette Blount struggled early in camp during the backs vs. backers drills. Rookie LB Ryan Shazier was reported to have cracked Blount hard twice when the team moved into pads. Blount apparently got the last laugh when it was reported that he bowled over the rookie. But can we expect and depend on a running back meant to be a between the tackle bruiser? A back meant to really only get 50-75 carries a season?
Of course we have no idea how long Bell will sit. But, hamstrings are a tricky and fickle little thing when inured. It could nag him for weeks and keep him from performing at 100%, which will only slow his readiness. It also still leaves the big question of whether Bell is tainted goods and is injury prone.
What’s your take, Nation? Should the Steelers (and we fans) be worried?