The Steelers are rolling the dice that LeVeon Bell will remain injury free and able to keep up his heavy workload over the final month by not giving him much in the way of an experienced backup following the release of LeGarrette Blount.
It's a chance the Steelers are willing and, more appropriately, have to take because they don't have many choices.
The Steelers are going to ride Bell as much as they can.
“We will take all he can give,” offensive coordinator Todd Haley said. “We will give all he can take.”
The team announced the move on Tuesday.
Blount, who signed a two-year deal as a free agent after a strong playoff performance with the Patriots, reportedly left the playing area in Tennessee last night before the game against the Titans ended. Starter LeVeon Bell (who was the other half of the alleged preseason pot-smoking Pittsburgh duo) gained more than 200 yards on the night; Blount gained none.
Eight weeks ago, Blount had 113 yards in a prime-time win over the Panthers. Per Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Blount had been an “internal problem” over the past month, and Blount had been “dragging down” Bell.
Blount will now be eligible for waivers, just like Ben Tate with the Browns who was released just hours ago. The Steelers will likely have to make a move for another back as only Dri Archer and Will Johnson sit behind Bell on the depth chart. Like we said about Tate, perhaps take a wait and see approach on Blount, as it's possible he lands in a situation that could end up being better. Given the choice, teams in need of a RB would likely rather have Tate.
Tuesday, September 16, 2014, 10:21am
There continues to be no splitting of carries at RB for the Steelers. It's the second-straight week Bell has dominated snaps. At this point, consider Blount just a handcuff who will steal an in-close TD from time to time.
The Steelers also used mostly 3 WR sets in the game, trailing most of it: Markus Wheaton (58), Justin Brown (55) and Antonio Brown (52). Antonio Brown missed some time while getting checked for a concussion but did return. Justin Brown finished with just one catch for six yards while Wheaton's line was 5-38-0.
Wednesday, September 10, 2014, 7:02pm
More significant in regard to the season opener is how the Steelers will use RBs LeVeon Bell and LeGarrette Blount Sunday against the visiting Browns. Tomlin has said that both Bell and Blount will share the workload at running back.
But at his weekly news conference Tomlin said he does not necessarily see Bell having to accept a reduced role after averaging just over 20 touches per game last season.
When asked if he could see Bell getting 20 to 25 touches a game this season, Tomlin said, “I think we drafted him with that in mind.”
Of course the Steelers drafted Bell before they added Blount, who may be the most talented runner on the roster, and the ultra-fast Archer this offseason. The backfield is a little more crowded this season.
This is probably going to come as a big relief to fantasy owners. The split workload never made a lot of sense and perhaps was a motivational tool in the end. According to the story, Bell's versatility will help the Steelers keep him heavily involved with offense while also taking advantage of Blount and Archer, who they will try to get the ball in space. Bell comes into this week ranked 15th in a pretty good matchup against the Browns.
Moral reasons? Please. This is not church.
They also would be the first team to fall on its own sword by doing so and violate the league’s collective bargaining agreement.
All anyone needs to do is look at what has happened in similar marijuana possession instances to know what will happen. The NFL will allow the legal process to play out and then Roger Goodell might issue at most a one-game suspension. He usually does that the following year.
So the idea that either the Steelers will act on their own or that the wheels of NFL justice will move so quickly Bell and Blount could lose a game to suspension anytime soon is folly.
Ed Bouchette's column came from someone asking him about the situation because of drafting Bell in a fantasy football league. Bouchette has been around a while so there is some stock to what he's saying, although it's not official. Others in your league may not realize if this is the case so both Bell and Blount could end up falling in your draft giving them a little better value. Keep in mind their situation is a bit unclear with recent news the two will split carries, however we still see Bell as the better back to own of the two.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014, 8:56pm
While most Steeler starters and veterans get the night off during the final preseason game, HC Mike Tomlin said Tuesday both running backs LeVeon Bell and LeGarrette Blount "absolutely" will play Thursday against the Carolina Panthers.
It's unlikely that either back misses any time this season, but we're still not fans of Bell's ADP given that his workload is likely to be reduced in 2014.
Steelers running backs Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount will be charged with drug possession after they were pulled over Wednesday in Ross by a motorcycle officer who smelled marijuana coming from their passing automobile, township police said. Bell, 22, also is expected to be charged with driving under the influence of marijuana after officers receive results of a blood test taken after the stop, Ross police Detective Brian Kohlhepp said.
The players and a woman who was in the back seat admitted having possession of a small- to medium-sized bag — estimated to be 20 gRams — of suspected marijuana that was found in the glove compartment, Kohlhepp said. The name of the woman was not immediately available.
All three were released from custody and will be sent a summons to appear before a district judge on the misdemeanor charges, Kohlhepp said.
The team's top two running backs could be disciplined under the NFL's substance-abuse policy, which includes penalties for recreational and performance-enhancing drugs. Last week, the NFL suspended Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe for the season opener for violating the drug policy, even though a charge of marijuana possession filed against him in November subsequently was dropped.
Update: Jason LaCanfora is reporting that Blount is NOT facing charges from the incident.
We'll have more on this story as it develops, though it's no sure thing that Bell will miss any games this season as this works its way through the legal system. The fact that it's a misdemeanor in Pennsylvania works in his favor, but as the article mentioned, the league doesn't need a conviction to hand down a suspension. Bowe was charged in November of last year, but wasn't suspended until last week, so it may be a while before this gets sorted out. Due to workload concerns, we have had Bell ranked lower than most for the entire summer and this doesn't make us any more likely to recommend him in the early rounds.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014, 8:37pm
The Steelers brought in bruising tailback LeGarrette Blount in the offseason to pair with LeVeon Bell to kick start a ground attack that finished near the bottom of the league the past two years, including a franchise worst 86.4 yards per game last year.
However, through two preseason games, the Steelers are averaging only 20 attempts per game and 52.5 yards on the ground — both rank 31st in the NFL. Those aren't necessarily numbers that you can get a read on the progress of the ground game.
“It is something that we would like to work on and definitely try and emphasize that if we get a chance,” guard David DeCastro said. “I think we are going to try to emphasize it, but football is one of those things that you can't really force.”
The Steelers running game got some attention this week with the talk of committees and splitting carries and goal line carries. It seemed assumed that Bell would get a bulk of the work but indications are maybe that's not the case and Blount could be more of a factor. It's definitely lowered Bell's value a little bit and makes Blount a guy to look at later in your draft.
Coach Mike Tomlin hasn't detailed how LeVeon Bell and LeGarrette Blount will split time, but he offered a hint in last week's preseason game against the Giants. As soon as Bell opened up with runs of 9 and 8 yards, Blount immediately came in to give him a couple of downs off.
“They're both going to get their share (of carries). But in terms of the details and anything more detailed than that, no, we'll deal with that on a game-by-game basis based on the plan, based on health of the men and a lot of other variables,” Tomlin said Thursday. “We have a great deal of confidence in both guys. Both guys are going to be central reasons why we're successful. That's the plan, and I think they're open to that.”
Saturday, August 9, 2014, 9:23pm
Pittsburgh RB Dri Archer was the fastest man at the combine this year and it didn’t take him long to show that his speed can translate to the NFL game.
The Steelers called Archer’s number on a well-designed screen pass on their first offensive possession of the preseason and Archer jetted for a 46-yard gain that set up a field goal for the Steelers. That was the only completion of the the night for Ben Roethlisberger, who departed after one series with the knowledge that the third-round pick could be a useful weapon this season.
Friday, August 8, 2014, 3:40pm
There are no such concerns about the running game in Pittsburgh, which brought in Hall of Famer Mike Munchak to work with a promising offensive line and signed burly running back LeGarrette Blount to spell the versatile LeVeon Bell.
Bell set a team rookie record for total yards in 2013, running for 860 yards and eight touchdowns and catching 45 passes for 399 yards. The only real concern was consistency. Pittsburgh averaged just 3.5 yards per carry, a number the Steelers expect to go up this season.
"We want to be able to run the football when it needs to be done," Munchak said.
Enter Blount, who rushed for 772 yards while splitting carries with Stevan Ridley in New England last season. The 245-pound Blount averaged a healthy 5.0 yards per carry and steamrolled Indianapolis in the playoffs, racking up 166 yards and four touchdowns.
The story said it's unlikely Blount will get such a heavy workload if Bell remains healthy, but it's very possible Blount gets some short yardage TDs. Rookie Dri Archer — who ran a blistering 4.28 40-yard dash at the combine — gives the Steelers three very different backs. The Steelers, right now, certainly seem in a better position to run the ball than they were last season and obviously Bell is the back of fantasy value. He's looking like a solid RB to take in the second-round of fantasy drafts.
Sunday, July 27, 2014, 10:07am
Steelers O-line coach Mik Munchak, who compiled a 22-26 record as head coach of the Titans, is highly regarded as an offensive line coach. He very well could have been the Steelers’ best offseason transaction.
The Steelers ranked 27th in the NFL in rushing offense last season. Their 1,383 yards were the fewest for the team since 1966.
But the offensive line did allow quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to play every offensive snap for the first time since 2008 and surrendered just seven sacks in the final five games after allowing 36 in the first 11.
Friday, July 25, 2014, 12:55pm
Steelers beat writer Scott Brown on RB Dri Archer's potential workload: "Archer has stiffer competition than Chris Rainey did for carries with LeVeon Bell and LeGarrette Blount ahead of him on the depth chart. I’d like to think that the Steelers will get Archer the ball eight to 10 times a game, but that depends a lot on him and the progress he makes during training camp."
Brown confirmed that the 8- to 10-touch estimate includes returns. Our current projection calls for 3.8 touches per game for Archer. One thing seems clear -- LeVeon Bell's touches are under pressure with Archer and Blount in the fold.
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