Le’Veon Bell Fourth On ‘Making The Leap’ List

NFL.com has been running a series of articles over the past few weeks, looking at the top 25 young players they believe are primed to break out and have a big season in 2014. Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell came in fourth on that list.

It’s hardly a surprise to see Bell’s name on this list. He was immediately pegged as the starting running back for the Steelers last year as a rookie, but injuries kept him out of much of training camp and virtually all of the preseason.

The foot injury that he suffered on one of his few snaps during the preseason lingered, and resulted in him missing the first three games of the season. He didn’t make his NFL debut until Week Four, during which he turned in a two-touchdown performance.

Dan Hanzus writes:

Bell’s abilities jump out at you on tape. He’s a sleek, powerful runner with quick feet, special cutting ability and good vision. He routinely turned 1-yard losses into 7-yard gains. His confidence built as the season wore on: He averaged 4.0 yards per carry in his final five games after averaging 3.2 yards in his first eight games.

The last bit of information is certainly true, telling of a young player who was forced to learn on the job because of all of the crucial time that he missed late in the offseason and into the regular season.

He was forced to feel his way into the professional ranks against experienced players without the benefit of a preseason, and as a result, he could be seen at times being timid in some of his earlier games. The foot injury, of course, was also still a factor.

Hanzus believes that Bell is a complete player, as a runner, receiver, and blocker. He points to his first career touchdown as a display of his vision, intelligence, and athleticism, and believes his varied skill set will keep him on the field for all three downs.

That is, of course, when he is not being spotted by LeGarrette Blount, the Steelers’ bruising new second fiddle at running back.

Both Bell and Blount have frequently expressed admiration for one another, as well as an eagerness to work together and share the load. They already share a belief that they deserve to be considered as a top five running back tandem in the league.

Hanzus concludes his article with a prediction:

Even with Blount getting his share, Bell will be a major centerpiece of Pittsburgh’s offense in ’14. We expect him to clear 300 touches. He could exceed that benchmark easily. A healthy Bell can clear 1,300 rushing yards, 70 receptions and 12 total touchdowns.

That’s star production from a potentially special player.

Those numbers are certainly doable if the Steelers are more balanced in their offensive attack than they were last season, which has been the suggestion throughout interviews with various players and coaches thus far this offseason.

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

    I’d be happy with 1,000yds rushing and 50+receptions

  • Virdin Barzey

    The key to Bell success is both him and that line staying healthy. There is no question in this mind that the talent is there. He has it, we’ve seen it so only those two things can stop it.

    This year has got to be when the Rosetta Stone starts to shine. To me, this is a big year for Haley and his system.

  • Longshadow

    Those would be my goals also….week #1 vs. the Browns!

  • srdan

    Our running game can change this team. Controlling the clock trickles down throughout the team. It masks a lot of deficiencies at other positions. It’s the number one reason I am so optimistic about this season.

    Controlloing the clock keeps the better unit on the field (offense). It also puts the other offense in a position that they try to do too much, thus creating mistakes. A good running game is one of the best things to help the defensive pass rush. When a team w a good running game gets a lead, they pound the rock and then the other offense tries to get chunks of yards by dropping their QB often, allowing our OLBs and others to get sacks.

    Puuuuumped.

  • rayster

    Use Bell through three quarters with a nice lead then ground pound with Blount all fourth quarter till the end!

  • http://pittsburghsportsinat.blogspot.com/ bgsteelfan

    Definitely

  • cencalsteeler

    I’m excited to see what Bell can do with this ZBS this year. Let’s be honest. Last years line was mediocre at best. With another year of cohesiveness, Munchak, and Pouncey back, the sky should be the limit for this years rb stable.

  • Steel PAul

    Gotta think he can come closer to 1200 (at least), given missing games and playing injured. Also the line ‘should’ be better with Munch and not get off to a slow start because of a key O-line injury (here’s hoping).

    With plays given to Blount and Archer, I think the 70 receptions is high. Maybe the same 45-50 he had in 2013.

  • dkoy85

    A man named Tim Campbell commented on the NFL site and coined the phrase “double pounders” for our backfield- saying the initials for both Bell and Blount are LB(pound). I kinda like it! I think the double pounders are going to be putting a hurtin’ on other D’s this year. Very excited to see them tear it up.

  • steeltown

    I like it