Pittsburgh Steelers rookie running back Le\’Veon Bell was heavily criticized for being too tall and lacking great speed leading up to the 2013 NFL Draft. While Bell cant do anything about his height, he is looking to improve his speed some as he arrived at Latrobe for training camp weighing 232 pounds, which as Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette points out, is about 10 pounds lighter than his playing weight last year at Michigan State.
“I wanted to be lighter; I feel like I move a little better,” Bell told Dulac. “I\’m still strong, I\’m still a big back — 230 is still big. So I don\’t feel like I need to be 240. Looking at my film, when I was lighter, I made cuts a lot quicker, I was faster. I feel better around that weight, so I\’m going to stay around that weight.”
Bell is well versed at running the outside zone and while he might not be a blazer, he should have enough speed to accomplish what new offensive line coach Jack Bicknell Jr. is wanting to accomplish with his offensive line more on the move in 2013.
“You have to have enough speed to threaten them, that\’s the big thing,” Bicknell told Ed Bouchette about the type of back needed to run in the outside zone scheme. “You don\’t have to be a 4.2 guy. You just have to have enough speed to threaten the outside, to make them think \’Hey, he could get around the edge,\’ and I think we have that.”
One of the many things that attracted the Steelers to Bell was his ability to get yards after contact as he gained 922 of his 1,793 rushing yards in 2012 (51 percent) after the first hit. In addition to that, Bell has good hands out of the backfield and is a willing blocker.
Perhaps two of the most overlooked attributes that Bell possess is his vision and patience and that height of his certainly gives him the ability to see over the offensive line and into the defenses second level.
“Being a 6\’2″ running back, I\’m going to be one of the taller guys,” Bell said during a radio interview late in June. “That\’s why they teach me to run a little lower here on the next level, because guys can really try to get under me, but I use that for my advantage seeing the defense. It can be an advantage and a disadvantage at the same time, and I\’m just going to try to do the best I can with it.”
Through the first few training camp practices, Bell is reportedly turning a few heads and should he continue to progress at a rapid rate, Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review thinks head coach Mike Tomlin will have a tough decision to make come the season opener.
“If Le\’Veon Bell keeps progressing like this, no way Tomlin will be able to keep him out of the starting lineup. He\’s the real deal,” Kaboly wrote on Twitter.