While the option of having go with the running back committee idea is still on the table, the closer we get to the start of the 2013 NFL season, the better the chances of rookie Le’Veon Bell of becoming the primary option for the team when it comes to the running game.
The Steelers have been left behind in the AFC North by both the Bengals and obviously the Ravens, and the first step to bring back the dominance we’ve been used to seeing from them is getting back the running game to where it usually is.
The Steelers were 26th in the NFL last season in total rushing yards and did even worse (28th) when it came to their production per carry, averaging 3.7 each time someone from the group consisting of Jonathan Dwyer, Isaac Redman or Chris Rainey tried moving the chains.
The Steelers didn’t waste any time and used their second round pick on Le’Veon Bell, the Michigan State star, who led all BCS schools in yards after contact with 921 yards. The problem for Pittsburgh might not be his own personal talents, but their blocking issues.
The Steelers’ offensive line averaged 1.7 yards before contact per rush, the lowest average in the league and a full yard below the league average. Bell is extra efficient when it comes to running in between the tackles, but the Steelers had a huge problem with that as well, averaging 1.6 yards before contact on rushes inside the tackles, one of only two teams below 2 and two full yards below the league-leading Tennessee Titans (3.6).
Dwyer seems to be in the worst position among the four leading players for the positions. Isaac Redman has been great in spring practices, and LaRod Stephens-Howling should get his fair share of touches as well. Bell, unlike the other four, seems to have the biggest potential of being an every-down back, with his ability to block and catch surprising the Steelers, who usually need more time to bring rookies up to speed on what they’re doing.