Pittsburgh Steelers second-round draft pick Le'Veon Bell already is emerging as the heavy favorite in his battle with veterans Jonathan Dwyer, Isaac Redman and LaRod Stephens-Howling for the starting running back job.
The Steelers announced Monday the signing of Bell to a four-year contract, leaving the former Michigan State star free from worry about missing practice this summer.
As a physical, all-purpose back with nimble feet and soft hands, Bell is a good bet to lead all NFL rookies in touches this season. Some observers even are predicting 300 touches for Bell in a workhorse role.
Even if Bell puts a stranglehold on the Steelers' starting job this summer, he's going to be challenged to live up to the post-draft hype. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley credits Bell with having physical traits similar to Eddie George. ESPN's John Clayton has noted the Steelers believe they have "the next version of Matt Forte" with their rookie.
Similar to previous Steelers feature backs, Bell lacks big-play ability but is capable of moving the chains, sustaining a rushing attack throughout the game and salting away a lead in the fourth quarter. He should prove to be an upgrade on last season's ground "attack," led by Redman and Dwyer, that managed a paltry 96.1 yards per game and 3.7 yards per carry last season.
Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.