FOXBORO -- Before the requisite Le’Veon Bell question was even completed Wednesday morning, Bill Belichick interjected with an, “Oh my God.”
And this instance, as opposed to Belichick’s exasperated “Jesus Christ” during training camp, was meant as a compliment.
Bell, the Steelers’ multifaceted running back is on Belichick’s current short list of best players.
“Tremendous player,” said Belichick. “Great hands, can catch the ball, strong, breaks tackles, excellent balance, tough, doesn’t run out of bounds, fights for extra yardage. Great player.”
Bell was suspended the first three games of the season but in the three games since his return he’s run for 263 yards on 48 carries (5.5 YPC) and he’s got 20 catches for 177 yards.
Belichick also took time to toss a bouquet at DeAngelo Williams, Bell’s backup, who ran for 258 yards in the first three weeks.
“DeAngelo Williams led the league in rushing the two weeks he played,” said Belichick (Williams had 143 in the season opener).
“He’s really had a tremendous career. One of the all-time great careers statistically (8,028 career yards between Carolina and Pittsburgh). Again, they have a lot of depth at every position. A lot of guys at running back and it doesn’t matter who’s in there, they’re a problem. But Bell’s as good as anybody we’ll play.”
With Ben Roethlisberger down this week, it’s reasonable to expect the Steelers to rely a bit more on their running game which means a steady diet of Bell – and Williams – should be expected.
The Patriots are allowing 92.8 yards per game on the ground and 3.7 yards per carry. They’ve been decent, but this week they’ll need to be at least that.