Bell Getting His Groove Back

Now all the Steelers have to do is give him the ball with the game on the line. Not that he's complaining.

PITTSBURGH -- Le'Veon Bell must've been asked three different ways yesterday if he wanted or should've gotten the ball on the fourth-down play that was stopped by the victorious Baltimore Ravens last Thursday night.

Bell, of course, wasn't going to blast or even mildly rebuke the Pittsburgh Steelers' play-calling that night. He simply ended his explanations with "We just have to learn from it."

OK, but what about the last Super Bowl? Should the Seattle Seahawks have handed the ball to Marshawn Lynch at the one-yard line?

"The Seattle Seahawks wish they had the play back," said Bell. "But you've just got to learn from it."

Yes, you learn that you give the ball to your bell cow in that situation.

Bell is most certainly the Steelers' bell cow, even in a short week following his first game back. It was a performance Mike Tomlin called one of the team's most encouraging signs.

"Yeah, I felt like I played well," Bell said of his 129-yard rushing game. "Obviously, I don't think that's going to be the end of what I'm able to do. I obviously think I still left plays out there. There are things I could've done better. I don't feel like I played a perfect game. It's still me getting back into the rhythm of things. I'm looking forward to this week. I'm more excited this week. I felt better in practice today, so we'll see how it goes."

The Steelers are 2-2 this week after their two overtime possessions ended with fourth-and-short stops by the Ravens. Does Bell want the ball in those kind of situations?

"I would never turn it down," he said. "But I can't say I need the ball every time. I think it was a good play call. We just executed it wrong. If the ball's put in the right spot and AB catches it, nobody says anything."

On the first fourth-and-short, a fourth-and-2, quarterback Michael Vick ran wide left and was stopped for no gain. On the second, a fourth-and-1, Vick attempted a pass to Antonio Brown but threw high and incomplete.

Was Bell disappointed he didn't get it?

"I'm not disappointed," he said. "What happens happens. When the play is called in the huddle, we go execute it. Whether it succeeds or fails we move forward, learn from it and it will help us throughout the course of the year."

Bell said the Ravens were in cover-zero (no safety) on the fourth-and-1 and the pass call was an easy one to make.

But was it easy to make because of the mismatch favoring nose tackle NT Brandon Williams against replacement center Cody Wallace?

"I wouldn't say it was one player in particular," Bell said. "They just had a lot of guys in the box and we had the best receiver in the league so obviously we're going to attack it. Him one-on-one with anybody, we'll take that matchup any time of the day. We just didn't execute the play right. But I don't think one of their players made us nervous or scared us out of a play."

You just learn from it.

Still, Bell considers himself to be -- even at his reduced weight of 220 -- short-yardage capable.

"I want to be known as a guy who's good for any situation: third-and-long, short-yardage, goal line," he said. "I feel I can go out there and get a yard, inches. Obviously I'm not 240 pounds like I was at Michigan State but I still feel like I can find a way to get some yards."

Perhaps the Steelers will learn from it, because running the football is back in vogue.

"I think so," Bell said. "When you look at the teams winning the Super Bowls, even going to the Super Bowls, they're teams that are running the ball. When it gets cold, you don't want to throw 40, 50 times a game and expect to wins. It's just not going to happen. You've got to run the ball."


NOTES -- WR Markus Wheaton (ankle) returned to practice and said he expects to play Monday night, but WR Martavis Bryant, while back from suspension, missed Wednesday's practice. He didn't discuss his injury, but grabbed his hamstring and said "I think I'll be good" for Monday's game.

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