Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell is quickly becoming one of the more versatile and noteworthy running backs in the NFL. His ability to catch the ball out of the back field, as well as run the ball, makes him a dual threat that is rarely seen in the NFL today.
With Bell proving his sophomore year has been anything but a slump, his numbers have declined the past few weeks. The reason for the decline in numbers? There are several.
"I get held a lot," Bell told Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
"It is not something I can really prevent," Bell said in reference to defensive lineman holding him before he can release from the backfield as a receiver. "They are doing their best just not to let me release. It's been happening a lot lately. I guess I have to avoid them as best as I can. There is nothing I can really do about it other than avoid them and get open."
Might be easier said than done. The New York Jets were flagged for holding Bell on Sunday when a broken pocket for Ben Roethlisberger looked to open up Bell underneath before the hold occurred. That would be one of the few times that penalty is actually called throughout the course of a game.
"Sometimes it gets caught, and sometimes it doesn't," "I have to do a better job being aware. Now that I know guys are trying to grab me, I am going to try and meneuver my way through the line of scrimmage more cleanly and get open so when Ben gets in trouble, he can find me with a checkdown."
Bell's receiving has hardly been the topic of conversation among Steelers fans recently. His lack of rushing production has been at the top of the list, and Bell sees defenses playing him differently now compared to how they were at the beginning of the season.
"D-lineman try to look at me to see where I am going," " Guys are trying to look, and I am playing peek-a-boo with them. You can especially see the linebacker. They never really shoot the gap against me anymore because they know I like being patient."
With defenses adjusting to Bell's game, and it being effective, it will be up to the Steelers' coaching staff, and Bell himself, to make similar adjustments to take advantage of the defense. One thing is for certain, as the seasons reaches it's final quarter, the Steelers will want their running game to be primed for a stretch run to the postseason.