By the time you read this, Mike Tomlin‘s weekly press conference will have finished. I wonder which word Coach T pulled off his Word-A-Day Calendar and decided to hilariously misuse this week? Fear not, as I will have my weekly recap/snarky analysis of his inane comments tomorrow morning. In the meantime, however, there is one bit of Pittsburgh Steelers news we don’t have to wait for his confirmation on.
Rookie running back Le’Veon Bell returned to practice last week and Fox’s Jay Glazer, one of the few NFL “Insiders” with actual inside knowledge, is reporting Bell is expected to suit up this Sunday when the Black and Gold take on the Minnesota Vikings in London.
Since Bell suffered a Lisfranc injury/sprained tendon in the foot way back in the Steelers’ second preseason game, news of his recovery has been sporadic and contradictory. At first we heard he’d be out for an extended period and may even need surgery, later we heard he was recovering at an unexpected rate and could even be ready for the season opener. I tried not to get bogged down in reporting every rumor because, as I said all along, there was no point in speculating until he returned to practice.
Well, he returned to practice last Friday which signaled his return was imminent. The thinking was with the Steelers having a bye after their brief sojourn to London, they’d probably err on the side of caution by keeping Bell out until week 6. However, desperate times call for desperate measures. With the season rapidly slipping away, there is no time like the present to insert the rookie into the line-up and see if he can revive a decrepit running game.
The ground attack showed a little life on Sunday night with Felix Jones and Jonathan Dwyer combining for 75 yards and a hair under 4 YPC. That’s better than the 75 yards total the team rushed for through the first two games but is still far off the pace the offense needs to be successful. The Steelers haven’t had a 100 yard rushing performance since Isaac Redman of all people torched the Giants for 147 yards way back in week 9 of last season. Despite a congratulatory tweet on his 39 yard output from The Bus, I don’t see Dwyer – or Jones – crossing that threshold any time soon.
Yep, the state of the Steelers run game is such that 39 yards is worthy of praise from one of the greatest backs in team history.
Bell undoubtedly gives the Black and Gold their best shot at reviving Stiller Football. Coming a week after they put the ball in Ben Roethlisberger‘s hands only for it to repeatedly end up in Chicago’s, there’s no better time to get back to a balanced offense which limits Ben’s gunslinger tendencies and puts him in a better position to succeed. Hopefully this doesn’t backfire on the Steelers as Bell has already spent more time on injury reports than the playing field but, as the saying goes, no time like the present.
Besides, patience is only for those who can afford it. At 0-3, the Steelers have no choice but live in the present.