Le’Veon Bell to Start for the Pittsburgh Steelers?

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In what has to be considered less-than-surprising news, the Pittsburgh Steelers have promoted rookie running back Le’Veon Bell from No. 3 on the depth chart at running back to starter. He is currently listed with Issac Redman as the starter as of now.

It is, however, interesting to see how quick this has happened. After all, Bell hasn’t even seen one second of preseason action for a team that is looking to rebound from a down 2012 year and compete with the big boys in the AFC North this upcoming season.

According to Gerry Dulac of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, head coach Mike Tomlin hinted that Bell will actually get first-team reps against the New York Giants on Saturday night:

Don’t be surprised if you see Le’Veon getting some snaps with those guys (first team)… I think he has earned that. I think how he is running the ball speaks for itself.

Don’t be surprised to see him getting some snaps after those guys are out of the game, as well. He, like a lot of guys, we need to get a lot of exposure to.

That’s not exactly practicing the “don’t let the media on to what you are planning” philosophy that Tomlin has utilized since taking over as the Steelers head coach back in 2007. Reading between the lines, Pittsburgh has plans for Bell in 2013, and those plans include him being an every-down running back who touches the ball 350-plus times.

The interesting thing here is that Bell seems to fit well into what the Steelers like to do on the ground. He’s a downhill runner who excels between the hashes and piles through defenders at an alarming rate. Interestingly enough, he has the escapability to break out outside; something we haven’t seen from Steelers’ running backs since, well in forever.

How this impacts Pittsburgh’s offense remains to be seen. It failed to gain consistent yards on the ground last season, which put more pressure on a lackluster offensive line in pass protection. If Bell is able to provide some balance, it’s only going to help Ben Roethlisberger and the passing game.

That’s what Tomlin and Co. are banking on.

As it is, it’ll be interesting to see how Bell performs in the 10-plus touches he sees this weekend against New York. At the very least, he could cement his status as the Steelers’ true No. 1 running back.

 

Vincent Frank is an NFL featured columnist at Bleacher Report.

Vincent is the head sports editor at eDraft, co-host of eDraft Sports Radio (which airs every Monday and Wednesday from 3-6 p.m. ET) and a fantasy writer for Pro Football Focus. He’s also the news director here at PFC and co-host of Football Debate Central with Ryan Riddle8:00-9:30 every Wednesday.