The return of Le'Veon Bell to the starting roster for the Pittsburgh Steelers has been a point of excitement for many fans of the franchise going into the Steelers' Week 3 matchup as they visit the St. Louis Rams this Sunday at 1:00PM.
In looking forward to facing the Rams, however, the reputation of their defense precedes them, especially when talking about their front-seven.
Le'Veon Bell is not only returning from his suspension, but this will be the first game he's played in since his significant knee injury in Week 17 of last season that kept him out of the playoffs. It begs the question for Mike Tomlin: Would it be wise to limit Le'Veon Bell's playing time against such a tough defense in his first appearance?
Tomlin answered that question definitively in today's press conference.
Tomlin on whether he needs to see Le'Veon work before he makes a decision on RB workload: No. I'm going to play Le'Veon Bell.— Bob Labriola (@BobLabriola) September 22, 2015
Tomlin knows just how good Bell is and he's had an entire training camp and weeks of practice to evaluate his conditioning and performance. If the head coach feels Bell is ready, there's good reason to believe that his opinion is well-founded.
But the Steelers' head coach also took the time to acknowledge the tough task that the offense has ahead of them, facing a talented Rams defense led by its defensive line. Their pass rusher, Robert Quinn, was among those to be singled out.
Tomlin: Calls Robert Quinn "one of the best edge rushers in the game."— Bob Labriola (@BobLabriola) September 22, 2015
But several questions emerged on the topic of Pittsburgh's own, Aaron Donald, the second-year defensive tackle for the Rams.
Tomlin: I know a lot about (Pitt's) Aaron Donald, maybe too much. Nothing I know about him is helping me sleep at night.— Bob Labriola (@BobLabriola) September 22, 2015
Tomlin: He's a better worker than a player, and that says something when you're talking about a player as good as Aaron Donald.— Bob Labriola (@BobLabriola) September 22, 2015
Tomlin was also asked whether he had any closer relationship or closer looks at Aaron Donald while he was earning national defensive player of the year awards for the NCAA during his time playing for the University of Pittsburgh. He declined to say that he took any longer look at Donald than other athletes, but he did acknowledge that he was a person they knew about and considered drafting in 2014. Having to game-plan against him isn't something that will be easy.
Bell's first performance comes against a strong opponent, but one that might be vulnerable after last week. Washington's rookie RB Matt Jones ran for 91 yards and two touchdowns, as the Rams fell to 1-1 on Sunday after defeating the reigning back-to-back NFC champion Seattle Seahawks in Week 1.
Let's see if Bell can be the first back to break 100 yards on St. Louis this season.