Around the NFL  

 

Can Baltimore Ravens stop Steelers' Le'Veon Bell?

Print

The Baltimore Ravens must do something on Thursday night against the Steelers that the Cleveland Browns couldn't: Slow down Le'Veon Bell.

Pittsburgh's second-year back piled up 197 yards from scrimmage against the Browns in Week 1, the most for a Steelers runner since Willie Parker's 223 against -- yes, Cleveland -- in 2006.

With 90-plus yards rushing in each of his last three games, Bell gives the Steelers their most dynamic runner in recent history, a back who can torch opponents on the ground and play a starring role as a pass-catcher.

Pittsburgh's run game has been a ghost under offensive coordinator Todd Haley before this season. Their yards per game in 2012 (96.1) and 2013 (86.4) ranked bottom five in franchise history, a troubled stretch that compelled the front office to overhaul its personnel. After grabbing Bell in the second round of last year's draft, the Steelers added hammer-dropping LeGarrette Blount in free agency this spring before drafting the explosive Dri Archer.

Coach Mike Tomlin hinted this summer at a timeshare, but what we saw from Bell against the Browns suggests a full-fledged bell cow. He looked faster through the hole and more explosive in his cuts, repeatedly burning into Cleveland's second wave.

"Gosh he's just such a hard guy to tackle and you sure appreciate the way they spread out the field and drop him the ball in there on those runs and even screens and use that big offensive line," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said this week, per ESPN.com's Scott Brown. "I thought really highly of him in the draft. He looks stronger but lighter and quicker (this season) and looks really good."

Bell ripped off 166 yards at 4.7 yards per pop in two games against the Ravens last season. The player we saw in Week 1, though, was a more elusive runner -- one who shed an outrageous 11 tackles against the Browns -- while playing a key role in the passing game.

If Baltimore can't shut down this new-look Bell, Thursday night will get ugly in a hurry.

The latest "Around The NFL Podcast" makes some bold predictions about the 2014 season and backs them up by putting some sandwiches on the line.

Print

Fan Discussion