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Bell, Blount Serve As Tomlin’s Beasts Of Burden


A day after getting into legal trouble for possession of marijuana, Pittsburgh Steelers running backs Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount were punished, in a sense, by playing well into the fourth quarter of a blowout defeat in the third preseason game by the Philadelphia Eagles.

Head coach Mike Tomlin said after the game that he didn’t believe sending them home and allowing them to sit out the game would be much punishment considering the situation they put the team in.

As a matter of fact, Bell and Blount were the only backs to carry the ball for the Steelers last night, in comparison to the five different running backs that the Eagles used.

Pittsburgh had several other running backs dressed for the game, including Dri Archer, Jordan Hall, Josh Harris, and Miguel Maysonet, but none of them saw a carry.

Only Archer, and recent signing Stephen Houston, received any action. Archer caught three passes, as a receiver, while Houston caught one pass on the Steelers’ final drive.

Consider it community service, I suppose. But the fact of the matter is that the running game, especially early on, was certainly more lively than was the passing game, with Ben Roethlisberger frequently looking out of sync, either not hitting his targets or failing to get on the same page with his receivers.

Bell and Blount ran well for most of the night, carrying 16 times combined for 55 yards and catching four passes for 17. Many of those efforts came on cutbacks when the offensive line did a lackluster job in run blocking.

If you consider that the two combined only had 13 carries in the first two preseason games, it could certainly be argued that the Steelers’ top running backs needed to get that work in to get ready for the load they will carry in the regular season.

But the fact that not a single other running back touched the ball out of the backfield last night makes it clear that this wasn’t just about getting reps. It was sending a message, telling them that their place is on the field, and that they shouldn’t do anything to jeopardize their opportunity to be there.

While it doesn’t seem likely that a league-level punishment will come down on the Steelers’ running backs this season—it’s far too late in the proceedings for the head office to do much about it now—that doesn’t mean the team can’t address the issue.

And this doesn’t necessarily mean taking the Santonio Holmes situation as a precedent and sitting either player for a game during the season. There are other means of getting a message across by the coaching staff or the front office.

Working them late into preseason games without any other backs giving them a breather was just one option.

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About Matthew Marczi

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

    Well in retrospect

    It was a good move!

    Now they can trade them!

  • John Fraraccio

    Wow. If I was Coach Tomlin I’d’ve done precisely that…and for the very first time he openly agreed with me!

  • Abed Medawar

    so he played them because other guys are fighting for jobs, fine, but he played them long and took away carries from other guys fighting for jobs – not just on this team but in the nfl?? so the guys fighting for jobs have no plays on tape from the game..weird logic coach. neither should have played last night and both should be suspended 1 reg. season game.

  • Steelers12328882

    This was a bad move. I don’t care what anyone says. The mental part of the game cannot be deemphasized and these 2 were a distraction to the team. They should’ve been left at home. The Steelers showed last night that they’re not a team just yet, but rather a bunch of individuals. I hope things get worked out before the start of the season.

  • Jacque Strappe

    I agree with this.

  • 6 ring circus

    Me, too. Considering how the game turned out, the other backs fighting for NFL life could have put some good film out working behind “legit” O-lines, if you want to call ours one thus far.

  • bustedknuckles

    If two guys get arrested at your job today, will it directly affect your performance? For me, as a team player, I would step up my game. Please don’t blame anything about that travesty on 2 players out of 90. That was lack of preparation. Plain and simple.

  • 2443scott

    i believe the performance of the team was directed at those two ..its all that was on there minds since wed night on into the game and it surely was on those two …could the upsetness the team had towards them caused what was seen by not giveing there all …i am sure it had well over 50 precent of the focus not on the game …look at any team who had someone in trouble it always filtered down to the team and here you got not 1 but 2 players …plus the team knows all the media will be talking now about it to them and the team for weeks now …plus what the steelers will do about this with those two …knowing what ever happens to them might also to them if they are doing the same things….so i feel this mess they find them selfs in has a lot to do with these two guys and the trouble it brought to team and the ownership…we saw last week what the team can be but they are a younger team and there will be miscues here and there… but they are not old enough to handle this type a thing alot of rookies on the team are not mature enough as players or people to deal with type of thing and put in behind them in a 24 hr span …

  • Steelers12328882

    YES, it would, although that’s a horrible comparison you suggest, because there’s not many jobs out there that have as much team concept as an NFL roster. The team plane was delayed leaving because they were waiting for Blount to show up. Bell didn’t even make it cause he was detained for a blood test. You don’t think that’s on the mind of the team? Pittsburgh and the entire NFL media was blown up for 24hrs leading up to the game with coverage of Cheech and Chong. It was a HUGE distraction.

  • bustedknuckles

    Dude please. Jarvis Jones didn’t get thrown around like a rag doll because the plane was delayed. Troy didn’t get juked in the open field because rbs got arrested. Do you seriously think that we were prepared to play a team running plays every 17 seconds??????

  • bustedknuckles

    And I’m sure 10 dropped all those balls because he was worried about 26s blood test. If another man’s problems affect your performance at work, you need to look inside yourself and dig a little deeper.

  • bustedknuckles

    And the ENTIRE defense couldn’t forget how to TACKLE in that amount of time. Sorry pal, that wasn’t the issue.

  • Steelers12328882

    Hey you can have your opinion, but I’ll have mine too. Difference between winning and losing a lot of times in the NFL is mental. Just re-watching the game now and there’s not a lot I don’t like through the 1st qtr. Just some little things that are making a difference. BTW only time Jarvis has looked bad so far is when he lined up at MLB.

  • Steelers12328882

    Listen. We can have a discussion and disagree, but don’t be throwing words around like “pal”.

  • bustedknuckles

    The difference between winning and losing last night was speed and preparation.

  • bustedknuckles

    Hahahaha. Ok. ✌ Still hot from last night’s debacle.

  • Steelers12328882

    No actually a bit more calm after reviewing it, but there’s 2 words I do not like being called. Pal and Bud. It’s disrespectful.

  • Mike Amaro

    All I keep reading is bell and bliunts arrest was a distraction and that’s why they lost if you belive that then you truly are a fool….as I keep hearing for the most part the team didn’t even know bell and Blount were arrested until after they were in Philadelphia and #2 they both played in the game how can you be distracted if there was nothing to distract you? Both running back s looked fine to me they didn’t seem distracted yeah there O-line didn’t open any holes for them but they made the most out of what they had. The team simply got out played and I just think this whole situation is being blown out of proportion. Any thoughts?

  • Donte Williams

    man ya’ll sound foolish I’m agreeing with bustedknuckles this incident had no impact on the way the team played. our defense was flat out out played. missed tackles to many penalties on this new DB rule (which I hate with a capital H). secondly why would tomlin worry about this the day/night before KO. some of ya’ll need to relax and let the legal actions take place and at that time if and when they are charged and TOmlin does nothing then you can B***CH. also for abede the 4th preseason is for those that still need to show something. you wasn’t talking this mess in preseason game 1 when he4th-5th wasn’t seeing n snaps wasn’t talking this in week 2. and if you know football game 3 of the preseason is for the starters so do you actually think the 4th 5th 6th RB would have seen any time if this matter never happened?

  • bustedknuckles

    Noted. Not here to show any disrespect. Here to share knowledge with family. Truth be told, I have a hard time dealing with ignorance. I find it disrespectful.

  • bustedknuckles

    There is a history of the Pittsburgh Steelers not being prepared and or engaged at the beginning of the season under tomlin. Preseason or not, I don’t like it or agree with it.

  • bustedknuckles

    And please forgive me. I often sound foolish. But I know a small amount about Pittsburgh Steelers football.

  • R1ddl3_0f_$t33l

    ALL of those thing you mention are about FOCUS. The two goofs getting arrested certainly DOES affect the performance of the team.
    They played with no fire, or like a group of people whose minds were elsewhere.

  • R1ddl3_0f_$t33l

    The team has otherwise looked pretty descent the first two games, sans one long running play.
    They were on a short week and with a huge thundercloud over the lockerroom.

  • R1ddl3_0f_$t33l

    It’s not the end of the world. It just goes to show how bad a lockerroom distraction can really be.

  • bustedknuckles

    I just don’t understand how the actions of two affected 88 others that badly. There may be a percentage of blame to be attributed but way less than 50. Imho And isn’t tomlins motto next man up anyhow. That’s how football works. If 88 guys couldn’t focus because of 2 guys catching misdemeanor charges than we’ve got an entire team of losers.

  • R1ddl3_0f_$t33l

    Philly has always had our number. The Steelers will be fine.
    I recall a particular game in 2008 when they shredded us and we thought the season was over.

  • Steelers12328882

    Yes, ignorance. That’s why you never call another man Pal, Bud or even Guy. I’m not sure how old you are, but you should know that by now.

  • R1ddl3_0f_$t33l

    You must not have played many team sports or something. Two of your star players getting arrested a night before a game, will certainly steal away most of the team’s attention. There is a reason why teams pay such heed to things like “lockerroom cancers” and whatnot– the morale of your team affects their performance in a sport like football that requires so much passion to play.
    They played like they had no focus last night, or that their minds were orbiting some far off place.

  • R1ddl3_0f_$t33l

    The fact that Tomlin ran both of them for the whole game says he was trying to send a message. What that message may be– we would have to be privy to the lockeroom conversations between coach and team.
    But the fact that he did anything at all like this says that SOMETHING was going on in the lockeroom. All the signs were there.

  • R1ddl3_0f_$t33l

    My current workplace is experiencing a morale crisis– and believe me– it saps the motiviation and performance of any team, whether they be engaged in a mental or physical activity.

  • Donte Williams

    I personally don’t think it had anything to do with them two, we as Steelers nation need to accept the fact the Eagles out played us flat out. secondly majority of our fans are pointing the finger at 26 and 27 but these same fans were praying and hoping Ben wasn’t n trouble from his rape accusations. did that torment the team cause if I recall we went to the playoffs both seasons these accusations leaked out. Bell and Blount were running hard didn’t seem to effect them. Bryant dropped not one but 2 bombs that he should have had. Philly pretty much came out and ran that 4×100 to a tee while the defense was out running 10Ks. some of ya’ll jumping the gun way to soon I am glad it happened now instead of in the season as far as the team being embarrassed. they have two weeks to tweak anything they have to, to be prepared for Cleve.

  • bustedknuckles

    Exactly. Still time to focus and prepare. Needs to begin immediately.

  • bustedknuckles

    Philly ran a play every 17 seconds. Practice that way too. From what I saw at camp, the Pittsburgh Steelers weren’t prepared to play football at that speed. Plain and simple. Not prepared for the opposition.

  • bustedknuckles

    Those two goofs played better than half the team.

  • bustedknuckles

    Finely tuned athletes are supposed to be better at dealing with adversity than those at your workplace,I’m assuming.

  • Luis Garcia

    Laid an egg… let’s work out of this … No option but to raise out of this.

  • John Fraraccio

    He needs 3 and he has 3. Earmark #4 for the lately expanded PS. Bench the 2 gents in question, play the rest against Carolina and keep the one who has a breakout performance.

  • http://www.reverbnation.com/JohnnyLoose Johnny Loose

    I’m glad Tomlin did what he did. Put them front and center after they screwed up. No sense in hiding them/protecting them, which is probably what would have been more comfortable for those two.

  • Weiss Chad

    Don’t keep any of them after archer.None of them have remotely showed anything .If you need another rb due to injury you could pick any of these Rbs back up off the streets

  • Weiss Chad

    I’m just glad it was only marijuana and they weren’t drinking and driving as that would have been much much worse and extremely stupid.

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