Le’Veon Bell Ready For More Work

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell over the course of the team’s first three games carried the ball 102 times, averaging slightly more than 20 carries per game. That is a heavy workload, to be sure, but one that could be sustainable over the course of a full season, producing roughly 320 carries by year’s end.

But he has carried the ball another 67 times over the course of just the last two games, averaging more than 33 carries in that span, nearly even divided between the two efforts. That is an incredible but effective workload, but entirely unsustainable. Over the span of a full season, it would be the equivalent of well over 500 carries.

For the record, only five players in NFL history have ever recorded 400 or more carries in a single season, with Larry Johnson’s 416 in 2006 being the most ever. The most recent season even in the ballpark was DeMarco Murray’s 2014 campaign, when he recorded 392 carries.

At 169 carries over the course of the first seven games, Bell is currently second in the league in rushing yardage with 684, but first in rushing attempts, and in rushing attempts per game, averaging better than 24 carries per game, the past two games upping that number by about four carries on their own.

Can he keep up that pace? Only four other backs are even averaging 20 carries per game, and none are within two carries. He was asked about it after the game. “How many more games do we have?”, he asked back, non-rhetorically, according to Will Graves.

“No, for real how many more games to we have?”, he asked again. “Nine? At least nine” more games, was his response.

Earlier in the season, of course, he was walking the fine line with the media in attempting to address the fact that he felt the offense would be better-served with him getting more touches. That doesn’t exactly seem to be a problem at the moment.

Nor did Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick prove to be much of an obstacle on his longest play of the game, a 42-yard reception, on which he provided a stiff-arm on the fifth-year defender that even he doesn’t fully understand.

“I don’t know what happened or what came over me that play”, he attempted to explain, citing his recent boxing training as perhaps a catalyst for what he described as “one of my better stiff-arms of my life”.

Looking long-term, Bell is looking at a potential 1563-rushing-yard season, which would set a new career-high for him by about 200 yards. His production through the air has been slower to come, but he has set a pace to add another 489 yards through the air, which would set him up for the second 2000-yard season of his career.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

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

  • Conserv_58

    At the rate Le’Veon is going I see a repeat of last season coming, especially the post season. History has proven that NFL RB’s that carry the ball more than twenty to twenty-five times a game will take a negative toll on their body. The accumulative negative cause and affect of the pounding his body takes will rear it’s ugly head.

  • ryan72384

    This is going to catch up to him sooner or later. Without him we obviously go nowhere. If he isn’t healthy again in the playoffs there’s no super bowl run to be made. Haley has got to diversify this offense and take the workload off of him. Have they learned nothing from last year?

  • Timothy Rea

    Well as awesome as this play was (nothing beats throwing down a bungal player like a toy). They really need to give Connor a series here and there. Especially at the ending of the game when its in hand.

  • francesco

    No Tomlin and Haley are as stubborn as it gets.

  • T R

    well I guess they try by throwing the ball but uhm you see where that gets us.. then we screaming “run the damn ball”

  • Darth Blount 47

    Amazing what opportunity, production, and winning, will do for one’s image!

  • PghDSF

    He really needs to be in the conversation for League MVP if he keeps this up,

  • Zarbor

    Not only what you stated but if you watch that game yesterday, you could see him getting worn down despite what he says. Its time to start managing his touches……its waaaaay too much. Great time to start getting the ball to the pre-maddonna WRs who clearly need more touches.

    I like Bell’s running effectiveness but that gives him more fuel to demand the salary he was demanding. The offense needs to be way more than just Bell but dopey Haley seems to not understand how to get our other playmakers involved.

  • cencalsteeler

    I agree. They need to sprinkle in more of Watson and Conner. If, and I say if Bell goes down, we need to keep the train rolling. In the past, the team hits a wall without Bell. We need to be better prepared to transition smoothly in case of a Bell injury.

  • Steelerfan4lifeinAZ

    One thing about Bell is that he is well condition compared to some of the backs in the NFL. We never discussed this when Bettis was getting 25 plus carries at 245lbs and he was a bruising back and you never seen him get spelled in any game. We are going into week 7 with a bye week that follows.which will be so needed. If Ben was able to be consistent as a passer we would have more of a balanced attack. To me, we continue at this pace..and gradually give him a break if needed. Bell never wants to come out, do you blame him.

  • John Noh

    Boy, that $16 or $17M franchise tag is getting more appealing by the day. I really hope the two sides can come to a reasonable agreement on the next contract but I think I’m dabbling in wishful thinking.

  • Dan

    Pound the rock! Just maybe involve Conner a bit more. Gotta have Bell healthy in January.

  • Dan

    Bell’s got an injury history though. And the Bus did slow down in his later years, even with his unique running style limiting some of the beating. (side note: 245 was probably an underestimation) I can’t blame Bell for not wanting to come out, but we will need him come playoff time.

  • MC

    I would like to see steelers get more commanding leads early in the game so that they have more freedom to go to Connor and Watson. When the game is in reach you want your best out there so early leads should lead to more spells for Bell and have him more fresh for playoffs.