PITTSBURGH -- Today is critical for Le'Veon Bell as it will be the last chance the second-year running back has to get some work with the offense before the Pittsburgh Steelers’ AFC wild-card playoff game.
But the Steelers' final practice of the week won’t necessarily determine whether Bell plays Saturday night against the visiting Baltimore Ravens. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley said Bell could play against the Ravens even if he does not practice this week.
Bell has yet to practice since hyperextending his right knee last Sunday night, and he has only done some light running since getting hurt in the Steelers’ 27-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Steelers usually don’t dress players who have not practiced leading up to a game. But it’s easy to see why they would make an exception for Bell, who led the AFC with 1,361 rushing yards and was voted MVP by his teammates last week.
“I don’t know if he could go in and execute everything,” Haley said if Bell is unable to practice today, “but he could handle a bunch.”
Still, the Steelers are expecting the worst and hoping for the best when it comes to their running back situation. That is why they are preparing a committee to make up for the loss of Bell if his streak of playing in 29 consecutive games is snapped.
“It’s not just one guy coming in and doing what he does,” Haley said. “I think it’s a group effort and that includes other positions. That would be too much to put on any one guy what he’s given us.”
A couple of notes:
The weather is supposed to be nasty Saturday night with forecasts calling for freezing rain. When asked how bad weather could affect the Steelers’ offense, Haley said, “We’ve got a quarterback that’s a mudder, so to speak, and can play in all conditions. It’s a matter of coaching the guys and making sure everyone understands the focus that’s required whether you’re carrying the bowl, throwing the ball, catching the ball.”
Jarvis Jones has played behind James Harrison at right outside linebacker since the former returned from a dislocated wrist in early December. But defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said Jones, the Steelers’ first-round pick in 2013, is still very much a part of the Steelers’ future. “Jarvis is going to be a very good NFL football player. Very good,” LeBeau said. “He’s just back picking it up. At the end of last year he was starting to impact games pretty regularly and he’s going to get back to that level, in my mind, without a doubt.”