For a franchise supposedly known for power running and success on the ground, the fact only one rookie runner has ever gone over 1,000 yards is attention-grabbing.
Hall of Fame RB Franco Harris edged over the century mark with 1,055 yards in a 14-game season in 1972.
The second-closest rookie to topping 1,000 yards? Bam Morris, with 836 yards in 1994.
Granted, former Steelers RB Jerome Bettis rushed for 1,429 yards as a rookie with the Los Angeles Rams, who decided they were a better team without Bettis a year after the moved to St. Louis. They traded him to Pittsburgh, and the Steelers have thanked them ever since.
The point being, Steelers rookies are known for two things; their supposed inability to play on the defensive side of the ball immediately (save Kendrell Bell, Casey Hampton and other exceptions), and their lack of ability to run well consistently.
Le'Veon Bell walks into that shadow, amid two members of the Steelers All Time Rookie Futility Club. Jonathan Dwyer rushed for 28 yards in one game as a rookie in 2010. Isaac Redman only topped the 1,000 yard mark for his career last season, his fourth with the team.
Even Rashard Mendenhall, a first round pick in 2008, rushed for 58 yards on 19 carries as a first-year guy.
Not to suggest the company falling short of that mark their first year is awe-inspiring. It's more indicative of a recent franchise trend that's extended into history. In 19 seasons, no Steelers rookie has run for more than 836 yards. Considering Dwyer led the Steelers with 623 yards last year - the lowest total since Merril Hoge's 610 yards in 1991 - Bell will have to do something that's basically earth-shattering to leave a mark of improvement from last year.
While Dwyer is excited to "prove people wrong, especially Ed Bouchette" he may simply be able to lean on history, and use the experience - a weapon Bell, for all his impressive physical attributes, does not have.
Dwyer is reportedly going to arrive at camp weighing somewhere around 215 pounds, quite a drop from his 230 or so pound playing weight last year. Some of that could be due to him knowing he'll gain weight as the season progresses, but if he arrives quicker than he did last season, giving him the ability to hit the moving target he's aiming for in an outside zone scheme, he could be too much for the rookie Bell to keep off the field.
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