A hush fell over a packed Heinz Field crowd when Le'Veon Bell stayed down on the turf in Week 17 last December.
Bell was hurt, and the sight of him laying on the field led to a harsh reality about Steelers chances at winning it all if Bell's injury kept him out of the playoffs.
We know how this story ends. Bell missed the Wild Card game against the Ravens, and the Steelers missed a beat without their All-Pro running back. With the chance at Bell missing the first two games of the 2015 season due to his DWI last summer, the Steelers and Bell should use this as an opportunity.
If Bell is to sit out Weeks 1 and 2, this should expediate general manager Kevin Colbert's task of finding Bell a reliable backup that can add his own dimension to the Steelers offense. This hole on the Steelers depth chart surely played a significant role in the teams first round loss last January, and it's a role the Steelers should be serious about addressing.
For Bell, this could also be a blessing in disguise. Two less games means anywhere from 30-50 less touches for Bell, leaving him fresher for the duration of the season. This also gives Bell the opportinity to mentor another back, something that would be beneficial to both Bell and whoever assumes the role as his No.2.
Bell could also use this time to study and watch his offense, particularly his offensive line, as well as studying how opposing defenses choose to attack Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense this upcoming season. Bell has rarely had time to observe and watch during his brief career thus far. A little time to observe the action from a different perspective could be good for him.
There's no secret Bell makes the most of his offseasons. He lost upwards of 20 pounds last offseason to become the complete back the Steelers needed him to be, and he became the most versatile back in pro football. Bell will surely use this extra time to work on another facet of his game, making him even more dangerous when he returns in Week 3.
Steelers fans rightfully want to see Bell on the field to start the season; there's no question the team is vastly improved with No.26 on the field. But if the Steelers and Bell make the most of this situation, this could surely be a blessing in disguise.