Bell’s emergence leads to Redman’s departure for Steelers
Running back Le’Veon Bell gained 93 yards in the Steelers’ most productive game of the season on the ground Sunday in a win over the Baltimore Ravens.
PITTSBURGH – The Steelers were happy enough with the play of rookie running back Le’Veon Bell in Sunday’s 19-16 victory over the Baltimore Ravens that they felt comfortable shedding some depth at the position.
Monday, the Steelers released Isaac Redman, their opening-day starter at running back the past two seasons. Linebacker Kion Wilson, released 10 days ago and re-signed to the practice squad, was added to the active roster as his replacement.
The move to release Redman, who had been inactive the past three games, comes on the heels of the most productive rushing game of the season for the Steelers, who entered the game averaging 61 yards rushing.
Pittsburgh gained 141 yards on 29 carries against the Ravens.
Bell, who entered the game with 91 yards rushing in his first two games, more than doubled that total, gaining 93 yards on 19 carries.
His teammates were especially surprised that Bell, who missed the first three games of the season with a mid-foot injury, showed so much patience in his running style, often stopping and changing directions once he reached the line of scrimmage.
“Sometimes when I hand it off and I carry out my fake, I turn around, it’s almost like he’s standing still in the hole,” said quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. “I think to myself, ‘Gosh, he’s going to get killed.’ But he has that patience. It’s not because he doesn’t know what he’s doing or where’s he’s going. He knows his surroundings and what is going on.”
Bell had shown flashes of that in his first two games, but was admittedly still learning the speed of the game after getting just a handful of carries in the preseason due to the foot injury and a bruised knee.
“That’s my style of running,” said Bell. “I’m very patient. But once I see the hole, I hit it. The o-line did a great job of getting everyone blocked up.”
The coaching staff felt comfortable enough with Bell’s progress that it used him in the Wildcat formation, splitting Roethlisberger out wide as a potentional receiver.
“It’s something that I’m comfortable with,” said Bell. “I ran it a lot in college. In high school, I played quarterback.”
He either handed off to wide receiver Antonio Brown, or kepth the ball himself. The Steelers ran the Wildcat four times, with Brown gaining three yards on one sweep and Bell keeping it the other three times for 15 yards.
“It allows me to read the line quicker,” said Bell, who lines up in the shotgun in the formation. “I don’t have to wait to get the handoff, I can just read the defense and go.”
Whether the Steelers build off of that or not, they’ve given future opponents something else to prepare for.
They also displayed a running game that had been non-existent for nearly a year. Pittsburgh’s 100-yard rushing game was its first since a Nov. 4, 2012 win at New York against the Giants, a span of 12 games.
Ironically, it was Redman who was the primary ball carrier in that game, gaining a career-high 147 yards on 26 carries.
But he failed to match that production after that, with his best game being a nine-carry, 43-yard effort in a win at Baltimore last December, The Steelers signed him to a one-year, non-guaranteed tender as a restricted free agent, and he had just 12 yards on 10 carries in three games.
The Steelers wanted to get Wilson, one of their top special teams players, back on the roster after his recovery from a hamstring injury, and the emergence of Bell and improved play from backups Felix Jones and Jonathan Dwyer made that possible.
Odds and end zones
Roethlisberger has completed at least 70 percent of his passes in three consecutive games, the fourth time in his career he has done that in his career. ... Roethlisberger has thrown a touchdown pass in a team-record 20 consecutive games. ... With his 17 tackles Sunday, linebacker Lawerence Timmons has now reached double digits in tackles in four of the Steelers’ six games.