To a degree, coaches will defend their young players, particularly when the scrutiny comes from the ever-present eye of the media.
Steelers rookie running back Le'Veon Bell has had good runs and he's had bad runs to this point in his career. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has been pleased so far, despite his second-round pick averaging 2.8 yards per carry through two games as the featured runner.
"The Jets provide some challenges is terms of run defense," Tomlin said, as quoted by Steel City Insider's Jim Wexell. "They're No. 2 in the league and they lived up to that. They've got some talented people up front. There weren't many holes. I thought he did a great job of picking with vision and putting the ball where it was supposed to be and running with the type of demeanor that we desire. Obviously, the numbers don't exhibit great success, but I thought it allowed us to have the type of balance necessary to complete splash plays, like the third-and-1 play-action (pass) to Emmanuel Sanders."
His 2.8 yard average puts him in unique company, of sorts. Baltimore's top two running backs, Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce, also average 2.8 yards per carry to this point in the season.
Wexell also quoted Tomlin as giving a reason why the outside run concept the Steelers were expected to run this season hasn't been utilized.
"Outside zone is something we spent a lot of time working on in the off-season, but we had Maurkice Pouncey in the off-season," Tomlin said.
The Steelers replaced Pouncey with Fernando Velasco, an experienced center with the outside zone scheme, but the team hasn't utilized much at all this season.
Judging by Baltimore's hard-rushing defensive ends, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Bell utilized quite a bit in the passing game - Felix Jones as well.
Whatever the Steelers' game plan will end up being, running the ball against the Ravens isn't any easier this year than it has been in the past (though Eddie Lacy just made it look doable averaging 5.2 yards per carry en route to a 120-yard day). Baltimore still has a top-10 run defense, allowing 98 yards per game. Barring a significant departure from both teams in regards to their statistical starts this season, it doesn't appear those numbers will be worse after Week 7.
But perhaps with two games under his belt, Bell will continue to build on his knowledge, and find a few of those holes Tomlin doesn't think he's missing.
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- Ravens vs. Steelers: Great Expectations Week
- Steelers add WR Devon Wylie to practice squad
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