Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said Tuesday that he hopes the team doesn't run running back Le'Veon Bell "into the ground."
Bell, the league's second-leading rusher with 1,046 yards, has shouldered a heavy workload for the Steelers. Entering last Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints, Bell was second among all running backs with 622 offensive snaps played this season, trailing only the Chicago Bears' Matt Forte (673), according to FootballOutsiders.com. In the Steelers' 35-32 loss to the Saints, Bell rushed 21 times for 95 yards and one touchdown. He also caught eight passes for a career-high 159 yards.
Speaking to 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, Roethlisberger was complimentary of Bell's production, but concerned about the toll the workload could take on the second-year running back.
“I don’t know of a running back since I’ve been here that has been able to basically play every single snap,” Roethlisberger said. “I think that speaks volumes for his conditioning and the work this that he has put in. But you do have to be careful. I hope we don’t run him into the ground, if you will. It’s that stretch of the year where everyone is going to give it everything they have, and I know he probably wants to be in there every single play because that’s the kind of player he is.”
Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin also met with reporters on Tuesday, saying he wasn't concerned about Bell's workload because the former Michigan State running back "has the pedigree" for it.
"I'm not overly concerned about that," Tomlin said Tuesday at his weekly news conference. "He's a highly conditioned guy, he's a mentally tough guy. Personally I think he's built for it. He's excited about having an opportunity to do that for us."
- Mike Fiammetta