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Stockblocked: Steelers loaded with pass blocking running backs

Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman finished Nos 1 and 2 in Pro Football Focus's pass blocking stats for running backs, leaving a big challenge for rookie Le'Veon Bell

Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

The Steelers are stocked at the running back position, just perhaps not in the way many anticipate.

It's ironic to suggest the Steelers, a generally downtrodden pass protecting team, drafted a running back to help alleviate the hits on its quarterback, especially considering the two they had last season, Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman, pass blocked better than nearly any other running back in the NFL (according to Pro Football Focus, they finished tied for third with Green Bay's Alex Green and Atlanta's Jacquizz Rodgers in halfback blocking).

Le'Veon Bell was drafted in the second round, and will compete against Redman and Dwyer for carries, but not until he can block, writes Tribune-Review reporter Mark Kaboly.

That's not an odd request. Younger running backs can't typically get on the field until they can - and are willing to - block. Bell isn't going to be an exception, but it's also one area in which he isn't likely to show a better skill set than his adversaries among the Steelers depth chart.

All three of them have good size, but technique is far more important. Just ask Baron Batch, likely the last running back on the depth chart, and could be on the outside looking in when training camp starts July 26. Batch, listed generously at 5-foot-10, 210 pounds, is a fierce blocker, if not an effective one.

Clearly, the Steelers admire such a trait, and again, Bell will be treated no differently. He's bigger but the question will be whether he'll have the footwork and intestinal fortitude to hang in against blitzing linebackers and free-rushing defensive ends and deliver a shot that will stop them in their tracks.

Only after he shows that will he be given a chance to elude those players with the ball in his hands.