“How many games are left?” Le’Veon Bell asked when questioned if he could shoulder a 30+ touch performance the rest of the year. So it’s no surprise to hear him say similar when speaking with reporters, the central topic around the monstrous workload he’s been given this season.
“As long as I’m not taking direct hits, I’m getting to the ground,” Bell said via the team website. “My body feels good the next day I come in…when I come to work on Wednesday and Thursday, I feel good. I don’t take my treatments lightly. I eat well. I eat the right way.”
He’s had 32 and 35 carries the last two weeks, the first running back to do so since Adrian Peterson in 2013. And he had 35 carries a month ago against Baltimore. He’s on pace for 386 carries this season, the most by anyone in the NFL since 2014. It’d be the second most in Steelers’ history, trailing only Barry Foster’s 390.
But Bell says his running style, which you already know is unique, helps him avoid big hits and mitigate that high carry total.
“I don’t think I run like other running backs…I don’t run into guys. I’m patient, I pick my spots. I get to the ground. I don’t think I take a lot of hits.”
He wouldn’t be the first Steelers’ running back to know when to avoid the big hit. Franco Harris famously had a reputation for ducking out of bounds instead of embracing a big collision, allowing him to enjoy a 13 year career and, for example, lead the team in rushing at age 31.
“If it’s 3rd and 3 or something, of course, you gotta go get it. But every carry is not like that for me. I had 35 last week, I probably had 4 or 5 last game where I’m head on head and just go at it. That’s low. A lot of games get 25 carries and 22 carries are like that. I just think I run a little different.”
It’s still hard to deny that Bell is being worked as hard as anyone in the league but it’s allowed the Steelers to rebound after that ugly loss to Jacksonville. Ideally, the Steelers will do enough in the present to allow them to rest Bell later. Whether that’s resting him in Week 17, getting a first round bye or both. Win now, rest later is the mindset. And with a run game as effective as it’s been, it’s hard to argue.