PITTSBURGH -- The running back ESPN analyst Jon Gruden compared Le’Veon Bell to when the latter entered the NFL stood outside of the Steelers' locker room Sunday afternoon.
Eddie George, who rushed for almost 10,500 yards and 78 touchdowns during his NFL career, waited to congratulate fellow Ohio State products such as linebacker Ryan Shazier and Cameron Heyward after the Steelers’ 30-27 win over the Browns.
His face lit up when asked about Bell, who became the seventh player in Steelers history to record at least 100 rushing yards and 50 receiving yards in the same game.
“I’m surprised at how lean he looks,” George told ESPN.com. “He looks like a totally different back. Quicker and leaner.”
Bell looked nothing like the back who averaged a plodding 3.5 yards per carry last season as a rookie.
The 2013 second-round pick gashed the Browns for 5.2 yards per carry and also caught six passes for 88 yards. Bell showed his trademark patience but also exhibited some wiggle and repeatedly slipped out of tackles.
He powered a running game that churned out 128 yards and gave the Steelers the kind of balanced they have too often lacked in recent seasons.
“I thought this was a game that everyone got to see what he can do,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said after leading his 34th career fourth-quarter drive that resulted in a Steelers win. “I thought his endurance and conditioning was superb.”
It needed to be and not just because Bell’s play helped make the difference in a win that the Steelers had to have.
Bell let down his teammates with his arrest for marijuana possession and driving under the influence a couple of hours before the Steelers flew to Philadelphia for their third preseason game. He went a long way toward re-gaining the trust he broke with his career day.
Of the Steelers standing behind him after his arrest, Bell said, “It means a lot. Those guys put trust in me so I’ve obviously just got to keep moving forward and try to get better.”
Gruden once compared Bell and George because of their similar builds and running styles. George, who made four Pro Bowls during his career, said Bell is on his way to becoming a Steelers great at running back.
“He’s next in line to do it,” George said.