Le'Veon Bell, the Pittsburgh Steelers breakout superstar of 2014, will miss Sunday's Pro Bowl as the result of a knee injury he suffered in Week 17 of the regular season. Denver Broncos RB C.J. Anderson will replace Bell in the lineup.
Bell set a franchise record with 2,215 all-purpose yards, while also setting the Steelers record for receptions by a running back. The versatile Bell was a proficient blocker, finished second on the team with 83 receptions, and led the AFC in rushing with 1,361 yards. The second-year pro from Michigan State was selected by the Steelers with the 48th overall pick in the second round and quickly established himself as one of the NFL's premier running backs, finishing the 2014 season as a first team All-Pro selection, along with Cowboy's standout Demarco Murray.
Bell is the second of Pittsburgh's five Pro Bowlers to opt out of the annual competition, as Ben Roethlisberger has already forgone his inclusion in the event. Lawrence Timmons, Maurkice Pouncey and Antonio Brown all plan to participate, with Brown joining Texans DE J.J. Watt as a captain.
Previously, Bell stated he would have suited up for a Divisional Round matchup had the Steelers defeated Baltimore in the Wildcard round.
Opting to skip the Pro Bowl could be a sign of Bell's growing maturity as a player, choosing to protect his long-term health rather than participating in a fun, albeit meaningless exhibition game. Fortunately for Bell and the Steelers, his exceptional talent means it's likely that more Pro Bowl berths are in his future.