Steelers coach Mike Tomlin once famously said that the team would ride running back Willie Parker “until the wheels fall off.”
The Steelers appeared to be going with that same philosophy in Tennessee giving Bell 33 carries.
Following the release of backup Le’Veon Bell, Todd Haley sort of stated the obvious saying “We will take all [Le’Veon Bell] can give. We will give all he can take.”
With almost zero experience behind Bell, it’s clear that he’ll be the workhorse for the rest of the 2014 season.
I have no doubt that Bell can handle the work over this season. At Michigan State, Bell re-defined the term workhorse. In his senior season he had 7 games with 30 or more carries, and toted the rock 44 times in one game.
That does raise some concerns though, that Bell could be taking some of the tread of the tires very early in his career.
Plenty of running backs have played at a very high level, for very short periods of time due to being over-worked.
I would never suggest giving a guy a “pitch count” in a game where he’s clearly rolling like Bell was on Monday night. You do whatever it takes to win the game at the time.
I don’t think you can worry about injury in the short term, because stuff happens… and honestly Bell gets a break this week and hasn’t looked to be slowing down at all despite being 2nd in the NFL in carries.
However, I do think that the Steelers should have the foresight to think about the long term ramifications of that this off-season.
I’m not criticizing the Steelers. I think cutting Blount and riding Bell this year is the right move.
I do think they need to look to free agency this year for someone to take some of the beating off of Le’Veon.
Lucky for them, that should be very easy, and very cheap for them to do. The Steelers could easily grab someone like Stevan Ridley, Frank Gore, or Bobby Rainey for something like 1 to 2 million per season.
Word is the Steelers do like undrafted free agent Josh Harris who was recently activated from the practice squad.
While I’m not expecting fireworks, running back is a position where guys can quickly come in and impress… We saw that just this week with Patriots back, Jonas Gray.