Le’Veon Bell is never going to be mistaken for Willie Parker. He isn’t going to be confused with Jerome Bettis or Barry Foster either.
What Bell is right now is a work in progress and that’s OK.
Lost in the Sunday afternoon blowout loss to New England was the fact that Bell put together a pretty darn good game.
He rushed for 74 yards on 16 carries and collected five pass receptions for another 65 yards. We can mention that New England entered the game with the 31st ranked run defense and that would be fair but let’s give the kid his due.
He’s been compared a lot already this season to Green Bay rookie Eddie Lacy who many thought would be the Steelers’ selection in the second round. Lacy currently leads all rookie running backs in rushing.
While I’m not one to make excuses, we must consider the fact that Bell basically missed the entire preseason and then the first four games of the regular season with the dreaded Lisfranc injury to his foot. That’s enough of a burden for a veteran player to bear let alone a rookie with who so much is expected.
Comparisons to Lacy or any other back for that matter are fruitless in my opinion at the current time.
My concerns about Bell coming in were the heavy lifting (376 carries last year) he had done at Michigan State and his penchant for trying to bounce plays outside too often. Bell was able to do that in the Big Ten but he has quickly found out that linebackers and defensive ends in the National Football League are not as easy to beat to the corner.
The positive in that regard is it appears that Bell is learning. I thought he did a much better job of taking what was in front of him against the Pats. He had a few occasions where he tried to bounce it outside but overall I thought he was better in this area.
He has proven that he can catch the ball and obviously the Steelers feel that way too. He was targeted ten times on Sunday and probably should have caught a couple more than he did.
Bell is not perfect and we have no business expecting perfection from him. He went the wrong way on one play leaving Ben Roethlisberger to make something out of nothing and he struggled in the pass protection game a few times as well. These are things that can be addressed though.
I think long-term Le’Veon Bell will be a better overall running back than Eddie Lacy. There is still much work to be done and many things left to learn but right now Steelers’ fans should be content with the direction Bell is headed.
Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard Mondays on Trib-Live Radio at 630pm ET talking Steelers and is a blogger for ESPN 970 in Pittsburgh.