The (Almost) Weekly Question: What Happens If Le'Veon Bell Comes Back?

James Conner's big day continues to muddy RB situation

Matt Koll
October 08, 2018 - 10:58 am
James Conner

Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan)- The line on a Steelers running back against the Atlanta Falcons Sunday: 21 carries for 110 yards and 2 TD's. 4 catches for 75 yards. 

If you read just that, you would think "L.Bell" would be next to it on the stat sheet rather than "J. Conner." 

The Steelers re-committed, if you will, to James Conner in a 41-17 win over the Falcons and Conner certainly made the most of it. The Fan Morning Show poured through this game on Monday morning and came back to what has seemingly been a question after each week's game: What happens if/when Le'Veon Bell comes back? Do the two backs split time fairly evenly or does Bell assume his same starting role as last year? 

Colin Dunlap and Chris Mack asked this question to 93.7 The Fan's Steelers insider Ed Bouchette and Ed said that, at the very least, Conner gives the Steelers options if Bell were to return to the team. If the Steelers don't trade Bell, they would not have to throw him immediately into the fire as they did last year when Bell missed all of training camp and the preseason and wasn't quite himself through the few weeks of the regular season. This time, they could ease Bell into the offense and let him get back into "football shape" without full relying on him to carry the run game. 

Colin and Chris do not believe Bell would be ready to go right away if he were to return during the bye Week 7, despite his claims that he is in shape and is working out twice a day in Florida. So, Conner should get at least half of the carries at first until Bell gets himself back into things. 

Chris said that Conner, at least for now, is more a sure thing than Bell and that's exactly what the Steelers need right now: consistency. Colin believes that where Bell may really be missed is his ability to line up in the slot and run actual routes like a receiver. But, he said Conner's fitness really shine through at the end of the game when he looked energized and like was still going full speed against the Falcons defense. That's something Bell won't have right away. 

Who knows how it shake out, Bell may not ever return in a Steelers uniform. One thing the guys did learn from this week though was that the Steelers have the capability to be a balanced offense. They don't have to rely fully on Ben Roethlisberger to sling the ball all over the field 40+ times a game. This running game can be fully a part of their success moving forward, Bell or not. 

You can listen to The Fan Morning Show's discussion about this below. 

 

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