Ben Roethlisberger calling out Le'Veon Bell for not 'busting his butt' like Heath Miller

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers quarterback took to the airwaves and expressed his concern for the level of effort apparently being put out by rookie running back Le'Veon Bell in his efforts in rehab to get back on the field.

There are players and coaches who use the media to send messages to players or coaches.

Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells used to refer to Patriots wide receiver Terry Glenn as "she" in press conferences - alluding to a perception of his frailty and weakness. I was around a coach who put in an ad for an assistant coach because he caught one online looking through job ads.

The Steelers' recent decision to ban players four years and younger from playing in standard clubhouse games such as ping pong and pool obviously is a direct message to them to get to work.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's recent comments on his radio show point out one younger player in particular - running back Le'Veon Bell.

"You can’t get a read on (Bell)," Roethlisberger said on his Tuesday radio show on 93-7 The Fan. "One day he’s practicing, one day he’s not. One day he’s going hard, one day he’s not."

Not exactly a ringing endorsement. It gets worse, though.

"I wish I could (tell you) if he was a guy like Heath Miller who you knew was busting his butt every day to get back there."

In other words, Bell is not working hard in his efforts to return to the field, or his level of effort and consistency is not enough to compel the team's most visible player and team captain.

It isn't hard to sense a connection between the elimination of pool from the clubhouse for younger players, and a general sense of animosity coming from Roethlisberger on Bell's efforts in practice. It doesn't appear Roethlisberger is particularly thrilled with the idea of Bell getting on the field for the first time when the Steelers take on the Minnesota Vikings Sunday in London - or he's at least wary of the idea.

Perhaps he's saying it to light a fire under the rookie - anyone with a sense of pride in their work would be angry to hear such comments directed publicly at them. But it's impossible to gloss over the specifics of the message Roethlisberger sent.

Whatever it is, it seems like Bell would be wise to earn the confidence of his starting quarterback, and that starts during a week of practice that could end up making or breaking the Steelers' season. An 0-3 start is obviously not where the team wants to be, but getting a win before their Week 5 bye may give them the positive momentum they need to at least challenge for a late playoff spot.

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