Le'Veon Bell has received nothing but tons of praise since the OTA's. Just Looking at comments from both Mike Tomlin and running backs coach Kirby Wilson, Bell continues to be his own harshest critic. "I still don't feel like I am doing what I need to do," said Bell, just 21 years old. "I feel that there is still so much more that I can get better at." Contradictory to this is the heaping praise put on Bell by Kirby Wilson . "He's shown that he is a violent and gifted runner," Wilson was quoted as saying. Other team mates and coaches have continued to lavish praise on Bell. Ben Roethlisberger has said "I've seen him use some shiftiness, quickness and the ability to make guys miss which is a very good thing." LaMarr Woodley , outside linebacker has said "He looks pretty damn good and that's from a guy who is facing him every day." Ramon Foster, one of the guys who will block for him tonight says, " He has shown the tools to get the job done." Is it this praise and outstanding camp efforts tat have Tomlin promising reps with the starters for Bell?
Drafted in the second round of April's NFL Draft, Bell who finished his junior year with 1800 yards and 12 touchdowns behind a porous offensive line, was brought in to resuscitate a stagnant running game by finding a niche to help to invigorate it , those plans have been altered by his strong efforts in camp so far. Bell has flashed power, speed and quickness and has fit in nicely with the new zone blocking scheme being employed by the Steelers for the 2013 season. Of all his physical attributes , it his mental aptitude that garners the most praise. Bell has not made an error in pass protection or blitz pickup , which is unusual for a rookie in the NFL. Kirby Wilson , who has coached running backs for about 20 years, has said this about Bell. "He knows 100 percent who to block, and he is executing at a very high level.He is doing exactly what we saw on film, and a lot of times that is not the case (with rookies). "He is ahead of the curve in terms of what we are asking him to do."
Bell is attempting to become the first rookie to start for the Steelers at running back at the season opener since Tim Worley in 1989. A good first preseason game against the Giants could set him far apart from the incumbents Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman. "It doesn't mean anything to me how good I have been playing," said Bell, who insisted that he has been overwhelmed at times. "I just want to get better each and every play. No matter what I do Saturday, I want to do better the next week and the week after that." Wilson has said that he will focus more on Bell's handling of assignments and his sense of urgency on every play, of which he has had lapses in camp."One play can't lose a game for you, but one can win a game for you, so we are trying to increase the awareness of every play to approach his assignment with 100 percent urgency," Wilson said. "He is getting there."
Bell has quickly realized that he will not overpower anyone in the NFL like he did in college, whether in the open field or picking up a blitzing linebacker. " In college ,I knew there were times I could just manhandle a linebacker and get away with it . In the NFL , I have to use more of my technique every time because he can beat me on any given play." If Bell can do that, he will likely see more reps with the starting team and become the spark to ignite the Steelers running game for the upcoming season.