Could Steelers curtail Le'Veon Bell's workload in 2017?

Le'Veon Bell will eventually sign a new contract or his $12.1 million franchise tag tender and show up to the Pittsburgh Steelers' facility ready for the 2017 regular season.

Once the running back hits the field, the question will be how much will the Steelers ride the oft-dinged up Bell? The 25-year-old has played in just 18 games the past two regular seasons due to injury and suspension. In 12 games in 2016, Bell averaged 28 touches, with high-water marks of 42 touches in Week 14 and 36 in Week 11, per Next Gen Stats. In the first two weeks of the playoffs (while playing through a groin injury he would eventually have surgery on) he averaged 31.5 touches.

Offensive coordinator Todd Haley said this week that while Bell's injuries in the past (knee, groin, hamstring) have been fluke-types, the Steelers are having "all those discussions" about the right workload for their franchise player.

"He's a guy, his injuries have been oddball type of things, even the hamstring," Haley said, via ESPN's Jeremy Fowler. "He's a guy who gets stronger every game. He does not want to come out of the game. He's a year older. We've got to make sure we cover all of that, which we will and do as a staff."

Bell is coming off of March surgery on his groin and is skipping minicamp in hopes of getting a long-term contract done before the July 15 deadline. Haley isn't concerned with Bell's time missed because the running back has always bounced back quickly in the past.

"I know Le'Veon's ability -- he's missed because of injury, and when he's come back, he's come back ready to go," Haley said. "I assume that's the way it will be. He's an astute guy who at least in the past has always come in at a high, high level for us. ... He's got his own issues he's dealing with. When he gets here, we will all be excited."

While the Steelers might consider curtailing some of Bell's touches, it will be difficult to take one of the best weapons in the entire NFL off the field. Last season, Pittsburgh had capable backup DeAngelo Williams at its disposal and still chose to ride Bell. With third-round rookie James Conner their best option entering 2017, it's difficult to imagine anyone cutting into Bell's workload.

The discussions might take place in the offseason about whether they need to be more careful with their playmaker, but in the heat of battle, Bell will get the ball.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content