At the start of the regular season, the Pittsburgh Steelers will be without Le’Veon Bell because of his two-game suspension. And for those two games, according to a teammate, the Steelers will be without the best player at his position in the NFL.
"I think we have the best running back in the game," veteran receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey said, as reported by ESPN.com.
When the Steelers hand off the ball to Bell, they can expect production. Last season, in his second year in the NFL, he averaged 4.7 yards per carry, totaling 1,361 yards rushing. Against the Tennessee Titans, Bell ran for 204 yards.
Then there is what happens when he’s used as a receiver. With 83 catches, Bell led all AFC running backs in receptions and was seventh overall in the conference.
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"He runs like a wide receiver in route running, very natural, very pluck, good hands, gets friendly to the ball, not drifting away from you or backing up,” Steelers quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner said. “Ben [Roethlisberger] eventually came to the conclusion that, ‘I love that dude. I've got to use him.’"
The Steelers targeted Bell 105 times in 2014, second on the team only to Antonio Brown, the NFL’s top wide receiver.
Bell said the receiving part of his game has become second nature to him.
"Now I can make moves and I'm not thinking when I touch the ball," Bell said. "It happens naturally, because I practice at it so much."