Everyone in Pittsburgh has been patient, but they’re also ready for Le'Veon Bell to start being Le’Veon Bell again.
After skipping the offseason program and training camp over his contract, the Steelers running back has gotten off to a slower-than-normal start, but he and his teammates think he’s close to breaking out.
“He’s going to have to get up to speed,” Steelers guard Ramon Foster said, via Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “That’s going to take time, and the good thing is we have 16 weeks to do this. Hopefully, we are right-minded to handle this challenge this week. . . .
“This is Le’Veon’s dress rehearsal. This is Game Three for him. We’ve got to make it go.”
Bell had 10 carries for 32 yards in the opener against the Browns, and followed with 27 carries for 87 yards last week against the Vikings. So while the volume has gone up, that 3.2 yards per carry average isn’t what they’re used to from their franchise-tagged runner, who hasn’t done much in the passing game yet either (seven catches for 19 yards in two games).
Bell said he was “happy” with where he was after two games, adding: “As long as we’re winning games. I’m healthy. I feel good. I’m going to go out there and play.”
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said he was encouraged by last week, though it was missing the kind of big runs they’re used to seeing Bell break. His longest run last week was 11 yards.
“I thought the only thing that our run game lacked was the splash play — the 25-yard run or the 35-yard run,” Tomlin said. “That turns an 80-something-yard day for him to a 120-something-yard day.”
While Bell’s game last week was solid, they’ve been spoiled by his quick starts in the past. After coming off a three-game suspension in 2016, he came out with a 144-yard rushing day against the Chiefs. Then again, he participated in training camp that year, so had a little time to knock the rust off.