LaDainian Tomlinson knows a thing or two about good running backs.
Tomlinson himself was one of the best running backs to ever play the position. He tallied eight consecutive 1,000-yard seasons while also grabbing a whopping 624 passes out of the backfield en route to earning five Pro Bowl selections plus being named NFL MVP in 2006.
Le'Veon Bell's game looks similar to Tomlinson's in terms of his vision, agility and versatility. Tomlinson has taken notice of Bell's emergence as an elite back in the NFL and, on Tuesday, he praised the Steelers' second-year pro on NFL Network.
"Let me just say this: Right now, I would take Le'Veon Bell over any running back in the league," Tomlinson said. "He can do it all, people. He can run inside, he has the speed to turn the corner, he can catch the football, he's versatile, he's athletic. I love Le'Veon Bell."
Bell has already tallied two 100-yard games this season and is averaging 105 yards per game on the ground through three games. He also has pulled down 13 catches for 146 yards, for a grand total of 461 yards entering the Week 4 match-up with visiting Tampa Bay on Sunday.
But perhaps the most impressive thing about Bell's emergence this season has been the staggering increase in his yards-per-carry average. After averaging 3.5 yards per carry in his rookie year, Bell is currently averaging 5.9 yards per rush.
Tomlinson also gave kudos to Bell's fellow back-mate, LeGarrette Blount. Blount made Tomlinson's list for best rushing efforts of the week after his 10 carry, 118-yard effort in the Steelers' 37-19 win over the Panthers on Sunday night, with 91 of his yards coming on seven carries during the game's final seven minutes.
"I call this guy The Closer. Whenever you need a guy to finish a game for you, you call on LeGarrette Blount," Tomlinson said. "Every team needs a LeGarrette Blount. He's like a pitcher in baseball. When he comes in the game, he closes out the game."
Tomlinson credited the Steelers offense as a whole for getting back to its running ways. Pittsburgh currently leads the NFL in rushing after slipping in that category during the past several seasons.
"(Bell and Blount) mean everything to that offense," Tomlinson said. "The Steelers have gone back to being a powerful football team. That's what's best for this Pittsburgh Steelers team. These two guys together are fun to watch."