Steelers have 'the next version of Matt Forte' in Le'Veon Bell

USA TODAY Sports

It'd be tough to make a physical comparison between Steelers rookie running back Le'Veon Bell and Bears veteran Matt Forte. Says John Clayton of ESPN, though, the Steelers feel they drafted another version of Forte, in the 230-pound Bell.

"John Elway believes he may have drafted the next Terrell Davis with the selection of Montee Ball in the second round," Clayton said on Inside the Huddle. "But the Steelers think they have the next version of Matt Forte, and they're happy about it."

There would be plenty to be happy about, if the Steelers took a larger version of the multi-faceted Forte, particularly if he avoids the injury troubles Forte has had in Chicago. Hugely productive, often injured.

But perhaps the goal for Pittsburgh is to ride Bell until his wheels come off, much like what they did with Willie Parker back in 2007. He was on pace to become the league's rushing leader until he broke his leg late in the season in a game against St. Louis. Parker had an impressive three-year run with the Steelers, being the focal point of their blooming offense under offensive coordinators Ken Whisenhunt and Bruce Arians.

If Bell is to be used that often, it would certainly break with the early trends established under offensive coordinator Todd Haley.

The backfield was split between three running backs in 2012, as Jonathan Dwyer led the team with 623 yards - the lowest total to lead the team since Merrill Hoge's 610 yards in 1991.

The Steelers gave Barry Foster the ball an NFL-high 390 times in 1992, and he rushed for 1,690 yards and 11 touchdowns as the Steelers rebounded from a 7-9 mark in Chuck Noll's final year to finish at 11-5 and win their first AFC Central championship under Bill Cowher.

Perhaps the Steelers are looking to respond to their 8-8 2012 season In the same fashion - by running the ball until defenses puke. Then run some more.

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