Le’Veon Bell Happy To Share The Load With LeGarrette Blount

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, destined to start the moment he was drafted in the second round last year, battled injuries early in his first season, which caused him to miss the first three games before starting in the fourth.

From then on, the team handed him the keys and let him go, receiving about 300 touches in his 13 games played. The team had little concern handing him a significant work immediately, as he had 20 touches in his first game, maxing out at 29 touches.

That may have had as much to do with the backs behind him—Jonathan Dwyer and Felix Jones—as it did anything else, even if the two got their token touches. 17 of Jones’ 48 carries came before Bell took the field for the first time, as did 13 of Dwyer’s 49.

Expect that to be different in Bell’s second season, thanks to the acquisition of LeGarrette Blount. The Steelers expect LeBackfield to split the workload more equitably than was the case last season, even if Bell will still see the lion’s share of it.

And from the sounds of it, Bell will have no problem splitting carries with Blount, a player that he followed through his college career.

“I thought he was going to be a good player to come in and run downhill”, he said after first learning of the signing. “He’s a bigger guy. His running style’s a little different than mine, but it’s something I can take from him—part of his game—and put it into mine and help me become a better player”.

Naturally, adding a player of Blount’s caliber—who saved the New England Patriots’ backfield last season when he was a fringe roster player in training camp—meant that the Steelers intend to use him a fair bit. Would he be okay with that?

Most definitely. I’m definitely not a selfish guy. I’m far from thinking about just myself. Plus that’s going to give me time to recuperate and be fresh. A lot of the times, that’s how I look at it, being fresh: doing the little things, catching balls out of the backfield, moving me around, because we’ve got other guys who can come in and carry the load.

Still, he has no problem being the workhorse when he has to be. After all, it’s something he’s done his entire career. He basically was his college team’s entire offense in his final season before the Steelers drafted him. Considering that, he had no issues with the workload that they gave him in his rookie season:

“I don’t feel like it was too much. I feel like my body can handle it. I don’t think I was too banged up at the end of the year. Plus I’m still young.” He added, “I look forward to it. I don’t ever think it’s too much. At the end of the day if I get tired I take a break or go in practice to get better, get in shape, whatever it may be”.

Assuming that Blount can prove to hold on to the ball this season, LeBackfield can help give the Steelers the balanced offense on the ground and through the air that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger recently claimed in a revisionist moment that he’s always wanted.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • shawn

    I was thinking about 5 carries a game for blount… but by the sounds of this could it be much more … ?? I hope they keep the brunt of the work in Bell’s hands as he needs a lot of touches to get in a rhythm … i was thinking about 22 touches …. (18 rushing + 4 receiving )

    Will be interesting to see how they divvy up the workload between all 3 backs !

  • Paddy

    The problem has been the run blocking, no excuses for them this year. They are all healthy now and it’s time to produce

  • John C

    I just hope the line is healthy come the start of the season and that they are all still standing at the end of the season. Wouldn’t that be a amazing given the last few years!?! 🙂

  • dkoy85

    This team won’t have many problems moving the ball. I just hope they fix their redzone problems because we could be dangerous.

  • shawn

    Yes that would be amazing ! … Injuries seem to have been a plague on and off the last handful of years … really hoping they stay injury free !

  • Jacque Strappe

    Having Heath at 100% will help that also.

  • cencalsteeler

    What a nice trio of backs the Steelers have put together. This is such a major improvement from Dwyer, Redman, and Jones (no disrespect). This, coupled with the Munchak addition has me really excited for the run game this season. Read that Blount feels disrespected because the tandem of Blount/Bell was not mentioned in the top 5 rb combo’s. I love motivation for our team!!! Blount already has a chip on his shoulder after two days of OTA’s…….. what’s not to like about that?

  • Dwayne Ferguson

    I really think Bell will be a special player if he remains healthy…

  • That’s an amazing final paragraph. I hope “LeBackfield” catches on, and I hope Ben’s revisionism is genuine.

  • SfSteeler

    no touch quotas man, just play the hot hand, keep them both strong for 4 quarters and then theres the variety of Dri…

  • CW

    Would be shocked if Blount wasn’t getting about 5 to 15 carries a game and Bell gets about 15 to 25 carries depending on the game with Archer getting a small mixed card of pass and run plays.

  • shawn

    well considering that in 2013 the average number of offensive plays in a game for the steelers was 64 and of those only about 25 were rushing … i dont think those numbers u gave add up

    I think they will be more balanced this year but still i see those rushing attempts around 30 or so … to me that looks like 20 for bell … 5 for Blount and 5 for Dri … +/- for each player depending on game situations …

  • steelster

    I really don’t see dri carrying the ball very much and blount getting 8-10 carries a game at least and may get more as the season goes on.

  • CW

    I’m thinking that in games where the Steelers have the lead going into the 4th quarter, the team will burn the clock by leaning on Blount, who will mostly have the lower number in the range of carries most games, mixing in Bell to spell Blount in the 4th.

    I gave a range where depending on the game situation the Steelers probably have around 30 run plays most games splitting them with Bell getting the majority, say around 20 carries give or take a couple, but in games where they are simply burning out the clock and the run plays probably also clicking up over 30 carries for the game, Blount getting the majority of those excess carries in the 4th. So Blount starts out around 5 or more, but can see 15 in a burn out the clock situation where the total carries might tick up closer to 35 or more for the game.

  • shawn

    that is a bad recipe if u ask me … first not putting the ball in the hands of the most valuable weapon “Dri” is just a waste … he is a true RB and should get the ball .. a couple times a game isn’t going to cut it … I think a lot of it will depend on how he performs initially … u might be right that he will be extremely limited at running the ball … BUT if he shows some flashes early they might test the waters just a tab bit more and push him a little more to see what they can get out of him .. which I’m very much hoping for !

    and 2nd splitting the carries too evenly between Bell & Blount while it could be effective isn’t helping either player … I think Bell needs that rhythm of a heavy dose of carries while at the same time not giving him too many to wear him out ….. i

  • shawn

    Ya … that makes sense … i agree with that philosophy as well … Bell to move the chains to get the lead … and when running out the clock more of Blount … great work !

  • shawn

    Are you also of the mindset that Dri will be extremely limited on his carries in the RB position (not gadget) like 1-2 a game ??

    Unfortunately, I’m kinda of afraid that this will be the case, but to get the most out of him … if he shows he can handle it in the preseason I would really like to see him get 5-6 carries a game in the RB position in addition to his other package plays … he needs plenty of touches to create big plays … just like a HR hitter in BB needs plenty at bats to be effective !

  • CW

    Honestly I don’t know how they are going to use Archer.

    I believe that he will get a lot of use as a fly route receiver taking the free safety and maybe another cornerback with him thirty or forty yards down field while Antonio Brown, Wheaton, and Miller are working the mid and short range routes like they used Mike Wallace a few years ago.

    As far Archer as a running back, ?. I’ll wait to see what they are doing in preseason with him.

  • shawn

    ya we will have to see if he can block .. that could very well be an issue … but still would love to have him back there as the sole back with 3 WRs to spread the def … kind of like marshall with the greatest show on turf … i think a lot is going to depend how he does in preseason .. I’m SUPER excited to see him in the pre season

    I hope he gets plenty of chances there like 10+ a game!

    I have no concerns with his size and toughness/durability as far as running the ball even inside … but his size unfortunately could very well be a problem when it comes to blocking !