Steelers hoping Bell sparks offense
Steelers rookie running back Le’Veon Bell looks to make an impact as Pittsburgh takes on Minnesota in London Sunday.
LONDON – Soon after landing in London Friday morning, Steelers rookie running back Le’Veon Bell tweeted that the plug converter he brought with him from Pittsburgh wasn’t working.
The Steelers hope they have an easier time plugging Bell into their lineup.
Bell, the Steelers’ second-round draft pick, has yet to make his NFL debut after suffering a Lisfranc sprain in the second preseason game.
Brought in to help boost the anemic rushing attack, Bell will finally get an opportunity to show what he can do Sunday when the Steelers play the Minnesota Vikings at Wembley Stadium.
“This is my chance to show these guys what I’m all about,” said Bell, who had just four carries in the preseason, missing time with the foot injury and a bruised knee.
At 0-3 and having rushed for just 155 yards, the Steelers are looking for any kind of spark, even if it comes from a rookie.
Already rookie Jarvis Jones, the team’s top draft pick, has become a starter at outside linebacker, and Vince Williams, a sixth-round pick, is expected to make his first career start at inside linebacker.
But it was Bell who was expected to be the first of the Steelers’ rookie class to break into the starting lineup. It took him just a couple of weeks to become a co-starter at running back with Isaac Redman.
Then the knee injury occurred in practice, forcing him to miss the first preseason game. When he returned to play in the second game at Washington Aug. 19, he lasted just four plays before injuring his foot.
“I’m just excited to see what he can do because nobody knows,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. “Nobody’s seen him in game action.”
The original diagnosis on Bell’s injury was six to eight weeks. By playing Sunday, Bell will have made it back in just over five weeks.
“I don’t feel like I’m rushing it at all,” said Bell, who led the Big Ten in rushing in 2012. “At the end of the day, I know that I have a long career (ahead), but I feel like I’m ready now. And I’m ready to help this team win games.
“My foot hasn’t shown any signs of setbacks, so it feels like it’s ready, and I know I’m ready to go.”
His teammates are hopeful he can be the boost to their running game that has been missing in the first three weeks.
Though the Steelers had a season-high 80 yards on the ground in a loss last week to Chicago, they haven’t had an individual runner gain more than 39 yards and have had a different leading rusher each week.
The Steelers made Bell the second running back selected in this year’s draft in the hopes he could be the same kind of workhorse that he was at Michigan State in 2012, where he led the nation in carries with 382.
“He brings everything to the table,” said offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert. “He can run the inside zone, outside zone, he can block. This guy, he’s an every-down back. I think getting him out there can really help us.”
Odds and end zones
The Steelers landed in London a little after 8 a.m. local time and took a half-hour train ride after clearing customs to buses that delivered them to their hotel just after 10 a.m. The team then practiced at 3 p.m. ... Listed as probable for the Steelers are CB Cortez Allen (ankle), DE Brett Keisel (hamstring), NT Steve McLendon (hamstring), and TE Heath Miller (knee).