Le’Veon Bell Likely To Break A Franchise Record Owned By Antonio Brown Sunday

I knew that Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell has caught a lot of passes in his career. I guess I just didn’t realize how many passes he catches. According to team media manager Dom Rinelli, he has an excellent chance of breaking a team record currently held by Antonio Brown on Sunday.

The Steelers’ all-time record for the most receptions in a player’s first 50 games is owned by Brown, with 236 catches in that span. Sunday will be the 50th game of Bell’s career, and he will enter the day sitting at 234 career receptions.

Basic math tells us that he will need to record just three receptions against the Bears in order to surpass Brown for the most ever in a player’s first 50 career games with the Steelers. Of course, this stat requires a bit of contextualizing, but it is still impressive in any setting.

That figure means that the running back has been averaging nearly 4.8 receptions per game for the duration of his career, which is even more than Marshall Faulk averaged in his 176-game career, though he did average 4.7 receptions per game during his 99 games with the Rams. During his final season in Indianapolis and his peak years in St. Louis, though, he averaged at last 5.4 receptions per game for five consecutive seasons.

But we might as well compare this with some other notable running backs as well. Larry Centers had the most receptions by a running back ever with 827. He did that over 198 games, though, averaging 4.2 receptions per game. He did beat the average five times. He had 200 receptions combined over a two-year span

How about LaDainian Tomlinson? He has 624 receptions in his career, but averaged just 3.7 receptions per game. He did top 4.8 in two seasons, including a 100-reception year. Tiki Barber averaged 3.8 receptions in his career, only topping 4.8 receptions in one season when he caught 72 passes in 14 games.

Our last hope has got to be Matt Forte, who had over 100 receptions in one season. But no, he has averaged 3.9 receptions per game. Even ignoring his Jets years, he averaged 4.1 receptions per game with the Bears. His 102-reception season was the only time he averaged 4.8 receptions or more per game in a year.

So yeah, I suppose Bell is in good company. If you can think of another running back who could potentially challenge his position at the top in terms of receptions per game, drop the name.

Bell’s productivity so far largely comes from his two most healthy seasons in 2014 and 2016. In the former, over 16 games, he caught 83 passes, averaging 5.2 receptions per game. Last year, in only 12 games, he put up 75 receptions, averaging 6.3 per game.

This year, he only has seven receptions through two games, but it shouldn’t be long before he is more involved. He hasn’t been very successful on his chances yet, averaging just 2.7 yards per catch.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

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

  • nutty32

    Wasn’t AB a bench warmer for a handful of his early games? Larry Centers was just awesome in Madden, hidden secret gem for the Cards and Bills.

  • gdeuce

    yes, AB’s first 50 games only had 23 starts

  • Kevin78

    Roger Craig averaged 4.4 receptions per game before his age 30 year. He suffered a massive decline after. All of those players, including Forte, have completed or entered a decline phase though.

  • Marcel Chris Chauvet

    Craig was the first name that came to my mind. Thanks for that stat.

  • Marcel Chris Chauvet

    Brown’s 16 receptions in 9 games his rookie season really skews that figure. Still, it’s an impressive figure.

    Marcus Allen was a guy I thought of too, but he averaged less than 3 receptions per game over his career. He did, however, average 4.1 per game over his first 6 seasons. He never averaged more than 4.3 receptions per game in any season.

  • nutty32

    wow. that’s like a season and a half. would venture to guess he didn’t even see the field for at least half a season if not a full season(?).

  • Wayne Padgett

    The reporter didn’t do the math or proper calculation. Brown only started 3 games within his first 2-seasons and his 50 games was in a 4-year span but only started less than 43 in that span. It took Brown 5 seasons to surpass 50 starts. Brown wasn’t even the #2 guy in Pittsburgh let alone being their #1 receiver. At that time it was Ward, Wallace, Brown, and Sanders. Bell catches the dink and dunks out the backfield too

  • treeher

    Number of receptions has to be put in context with yards per reception. In 2016, AB was 106 for 12.1 average. Bell was 75 for 8.21 yards. (by the way, Fitzgerald had 107 receptions but only for a 9.5 average).

  • colingrant

    Herein lies the basis of his asking price

  • Jeff McNeill

    What math did he do improperly? I don’t see any math concerning AB, he just states how many receptions he had in his first 50 games. Numbers are numbers. The context you give about AB’s numbers are nice, but I believe he is more telling the story of how great Bell has been. I don’t believe anyone thinks Bell is the WR that AB is.

  • Jeff McNeill

    I don’t think he is comparing the receiving prowess of Bell vs AB. That would just be silly. He is just showing the numbers and then comparing Bell to other RB’s.

  • will

    “Imma need 15”

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    “And dey know dis”

  • razaard2

    Dude don’t compare wr ypr with RBs, that doesn’t make any sense
    The article is stating a fact (Bell is about to break a Steelers record) and going on to show he is one of the greatest RB pass catchers. If you wanna say his ypr are low, compare him with faulk or forte or David Johnson (idk the numbers tho)

  • razaard2

    Bell is a beast
    The weirder thing is I think Ben pass on several opportunities to dump him the ball in order to throw it deep

  • Geoffrey Benedict

    Most receptions in first 50 games by RBs

    L. Tomlinson: 244
    James Wilder: 234
    L. Bell: 234. (49)

    If they worked really hard, Bell could catch LT, he’s had 10 in a game once.

    Yards from Scrimmage, first 50 games:

    Edgerrin James: 6506
    L. Tomlinson: 6425
    E. Dickerson: 6294
    L. Bell: 6188

    Bell could catch Dickerson, the other two are not very likely.

    Bell’s 5.25 yards per touch ranks very highly over other players first 50 games.

    As for the team record, only Bell and Brown have at least 200 receptions in their first 50 games, Buddy Dial is third with 195.

  • Matthew Marczi

    It doesn’t matter whether or not he started those games. It’s not 50 starts, but 50 games. And regardless, the fact is that nobody before in the history of the franchise, including, you know, some Hall of Fame players, caught more than Brown, yet Bell, a running back, is about to do it. Of course it’s not like comparing Bell’s first 50 games to Brown’s last 50, he probably has like 400 receptions in his last 50. But comparing him to basically every other running back at his current pace, it’s insanely prolific.

  • treeher

    Fair enough. Then Bell shouldn’t compare HIMSELF with wide receivers, saying he wants to be paid like a WR.

  • dany

    a freakin RB having that record, that’s hilarious

  • jconeoone C

    Chris Hogan averaged 17.89. Clearly we are overpaying Antonio Brown since he is only 12.1…..am I doing this right?…..bc basing judgements off this one stat is silly

  • jconeoone C

    Did not realize edgerrin James put up that type of start!

  • AndyR34

    Matthew – you are arguing with a fool that doesn’t even understand basic math! Idiots don’t deserve your attention. Please keep bringing interesting stuff ro us! (I know you will)

  • razaard2

    I don’t think that’s supposed to be taken literally