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Steelers’ Le’Veon Bell expects fewer carries, more catches in 2018

Tim Benz
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Getty Images for SiriusXM
Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell speaks at the SiriusXM Super Bowl LII Radio Row at the Mall of America on Feb. 2, 2018 in Bloomington, Minn.

Monday night, the NFL Network revealed its top 10 stars as voted upon by the league’s players. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was No. 1.

Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown was second and his teammate Le’Veon Bell was fifth.

Brady won the rankings last year, too. Both Bell and Brown moved up in 2018 — Bell from ninth and Brown from fourth.

Interestingly, Bell’s per-game yardage totals dropped in 2017. Meanwhile, Brown had a few less catches and touchdowns than he had in 2016. But he also played 14 games as opposed to 15 in 2016.

The bigger news was that Bell offered a couple of significant revelations of his own during his conversation with the network during the show.


Deal not dead yet

Most of us are assuming that Bell will play 2018 on the franchise tag. But he said Monday night that he is still holding out hope that a long-term deal can be reached in Pittsburgh.

“We’re a lot closer than we were last year at this time,” Bell said Monday night on NFL Network. “That’s what I’m happy about. None of that matters if we don’t get it done. Hopefully, we’ll try to get something done. That’s what I’m looking forward to. I’ve got confidence we’ll get it done.

“I want to do it.”

The problem there is that Bell just “wants to do it” at his price. With Michael Irvin constantly yapping in his ear to hold out for every red cent like he was doing on television last night, then a deal isn’t going get done.

Bell needs to understand that the Steelers have come as far as they will come. They aren’t going to hit $17.5 million like Antonio Brown, as Bell allegedly wanted. They aren’t going to even touch $14.55 million on multiple years as he requested.

If that reported $13.1 million offer from Pittsburgh still stands — which it may not at this point — Bell needs to take it if he wants to stay.


Carries may drop

It sounds as if Bell is expecting an expanded role in the passing game but fewer carries with Randy Fichtner taking over as offensive coordinator.

“A lot of my touches will be the same. I don’t think I will see less. I don’t think I will see more,” Bell told Kurt Warner. “I think Randy will find different ways to get me more open space. Allow me to use my moves and my strength more so against DBs as opposed to linebackers and running in between the tackles.

“I think I will have more catches and less carries but the touches will all be there.”

Given Martavis Bryant’s departure, Bell may need to be more active in the pass game. Then again, we just came off of a minicamp where the tight ends were speaking as if they may pick up that slack.

But given that this is likely going to be a contractual walk year for Bell, slamming into linebackers less often has to be a welcomed idea.

One concern though: Even by Bell’s admission later in the interview, the passing game was slower to evolve after his hold out last year. Seeing as how he may hold out again, that could be a problem.


Don’t look ahead

Some Steelers apologists like to argue that the notion that the team looking ahead to next week’s opponent when playing a lesser-club isn’t really a problem.

They say it’s a media-created narrative.

How people continue to make that case at all is beyond me. But those who think Mike Tomlin takes too much heat come up with arguments attempting to deflect that idea away.

Bell admitted it was a problem yesterday.

“That’s something we’ve got to work on doing,” Bell said. “Winning the games we are supposed to win. Not looking past people, or worrying about who we are playing the next week. I’m guilty of that, too. That’s something we gotta work on doing.”

Gee, I wonder what he means .

Oh, the last big reveal? Bell found out about his Top 5 standing while eating at Benihana.

I’m a big fan of the teriyaki beef, myself.

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