At some point over the course of the next 48 hours the Pittsburgh Steelers will activate starting running back Le’Veon Bell from the Reserve/Suspended list and he’ll be expected to start next Sunday in the Week 3 game against the St. Louis Rams. With that said, the team is still expected to carve out some type of roll for backup DeAngelo Williams even though head coach Mike Tomlin isn’t quite ready to tip his hand as to how that might ultimately play out.
“We will see what we do next week,” Tomlin said after the 49ers game when asked how he’ll balance the running back load with Bell returning.
As for Williams, even though he knows his role will be diminished some moving forward, he’s very happy to have Bell back in the fold.
“There’s no one more excited than me to see Le’Veon come back,” Williams said to reporters after the 49ers game, echoing his Sunday afternoon tweet. “Help is on the way, and I’m excited for it.”
In his two games filling in for Bell as the Steelers starter, Williams produced 224 yards of total offense and scored three times. All three of those touchdowns came Sunday against the 49ers and that tied a Steelers single-game record when it comes to rushing scores. Former running back Willie Parker was the last Steelers player to accomplish feat and that happened way back in 2008.
Being as Bell might have a little rust to knock off upon his return, Williams might very well come close to splitting reps with him next week against the Rams. Regardless of how the spilt winds up working out, Williams has more than shown during the first two weeks of the season that he’s very capable of filling in for Bell whenever he might need a breather.
Keeping Bell fresh over the remainder of the season might be a good idea as well and especially when it comes to later in games in which the Steelers have a nice lead. Last season, Bell registered 373 total touches and the Steelers would probably like to see that per game pace decrease some moving forward with him as long as it doesn’t result in loss of overall offensive production.