The top name grabbing Steelers headlines in 2012 was, without question, Mike Wallace.
He was probably close to the top of that list in 2009, his rookie season, as well. It seems through the first part of 2013 and training camp, rookie running back Le'Veon Bell is geared to take that honor.
Tomlin is typically terse when asked about rookies, but he's starting to answer when asked about Le'Veon. Bell is making an impression.— Bob Labriola (@BobLabriola) August 3, 2013
In fact, Bell is probably garnering more attention than even Wallace did before his rookie season.
While Wallace blazed vertically on the field and straight onto the laptops of the ink-stained wretches covering the Steelers, Bell raises the hyperbolic bar with each practice. From a mediocre performance in Backs on Backers to big gains on stretch runs to his receiving performance when locked on linebackers, it seems the rookie Bell is generating the kind of hype only reserved for Offensive Rookie of the Year candidates.
Since 2000, five running backs have won the Offensive Rookie of the Year award - Minnesota's Adrian Peterson (2007), Tampa Bay's Cadillac Williams (2005), Denver's Clinton Portis (2002), Chicago's Anthony Thomas (2001) and Denver's Mike Anderson (2000).
Since Peterson in 2007, no running back has won the award, with the last three going to quarterbacks - Washington's Robert Griffin III, Carolina's Cam Newton and St. Louis's Sam Bradford.
The explosion of quarterbacks in the NFL gives players at that position a big advantage to the award. Considering Washington's Alfred Morris topped all five of the previous running backs to win the award with his amazing 2012 season (1,613 yards and 13 touchdowns), coming less than 200 yards shy of Eric Dickerson's 30-year-old rookie rushing record, it seems far less likely a running back could win that award.
Not to mention if Bell was to repeat Morris's 2012 season exactly, he'd fall 77 yards shy of the Steelers' all-time rushing record, finishing third in franchise history.
That'd be quite the season.
His performance certainly won't be dictated by the amount of hype he's generating, but with Steelers coach Mike Tomlin declaring his commitment to one back who performs well consistently, Bell may have already earned the top spot on the depth chart.
Wallace didn't need a starting spot in 2009 to make an impact (his 19.4 yards per catch led the NFL). He lived up to the hype he generated during training camp.
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- Timeout on Steelers TV windfall
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- Steelers Injury Report
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- Mike Adams, Marcus Gilbert switch sides during Steelers evening practice Friday
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- Friday night scrimmage open thread
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- Saints rave over Keenan Lewis while Steelers suffer DB injuries
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