Pittsburgh Steelers running game has pieces in place, but success comes on the field

Wesley Hitt

The Steelers' running game won't have the ability to just wish it improves. Even with outstanding additions, they'll still have to put the work in.

The look of a top-five rushing team: A deep backfield, a strong and consistent offensive line, enough of a passing attack to keep the field spread wide with defenders and a quarterback to decipher it all.

The quarterback is key, always has been, always will be. Of the top five rushing teams in 2013, three of them - Philadelphia, San Francisco and Seattle - had solid to outstanding quarterback play. The other two - Buffalo and Washington - did not.

If the Steelers are aiming for a top-five finish in rushing yards this year, which it appears they are, they'll have the quarterback.

They have the depth. LeBackfield - Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount - will team up to be one of the more versatile combinations in the game. Bell's size doesn't portray his best strength, quickness and his receiving ability. Blount, for a big back, runs with great ability and has outstanding vision.

The offensive line? If it's still not in place, it will be back to the drawing board for yet another season. But all indications point to a group that at least will have a large amount of control over their success as a group. Certainly, the addition of Mike Munchak, one of the best offensive line coaches in the game, will give them a boost, but the work still needs to be done.

So what's a realistic prediction for yards? Philadelphia went for over 2,500 yards. That may be a tad high. The Steelers haven't rushed for over 2,000 yards since the 2007 season, which, perhaps not coincidentally, was one of Ben Roethlisberger's best seasons. The presence of running back Willie Parker and the amount of touches he got won't be all that different from how Bell will be used this year.

Perhaps the Steelers won't ride Bell until his wheels fall off, but they'll look to run the ball and run it often.

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