(Ezekiel Elliott photo courtesy of the Dallas Cowboys)
(Le'Veon Bell photo courtesy of the Pittsburgh Steelers)
Talk of Fame Network
How good a running back is Le’Veon Bell?
Apparently good enough to spot the rest of the league’s running backs three games and still capture the NFL rushing title.
At least that’s the opinion of the voters in this week’s Talk of Fame Network poll. We asked our listeners and readers who would win the NFL rushing title this season, and Bell, who sat out Pittsburgh’s first three games of the season under an NFL suspension, received 38.1 percent of the vote.
Dallas rookie Ezekiel Elliott finished second with 28.6 percent of the vote, followed by Todd Gurley of the Rams at 16.7 percent, then LeGarrette Blount of the Patriots at 11.9 percent. Doug Martin of the Buccaneers and Lamar Miller of the Texans both finished in single digits.
The three hosts of the Talk of Fame Network – Ron Borges, Rick Gosselin and Clark Judge – all cast their ballots for the same back.
“Elliott,” Borges said, “because the Cowboys know they can't really trust any of their quarterbacks.”
“The Cowboys have the best offensive line in the business,” added Judge. “They have one quarterback who’s a rookie and another with a bad back, meaning ... meaning they’re going to try to protect those quarterbacks with the run.”
Elliott rushed a career-high 30 times for a career-best 140 yards last weekend against the Chicago Bears to move into second place in the league rushing race behind Blount, who has 298 yards through the first three weeks. Elliott has 274 yards.
To the points of Borges and Judge, the Cowboys are playing a rookie fourth-round draft pick (Dak Prescott) at quarterback because Tony Romo figures to miss at least the first six games with a broken bone in his back suffered in the preseason. It was the second major back injury for Romo in three seasons. He’s 36 years of age and has missed games each of the last three seasons now with injuries.
The rushing race is wide open with the NFL’s incumbent rushing champion Adrian Peterson on injured reserve with a knee injury and Kansas City's Jamaal Charles sidelined with the lingering effects of his own 2015 knee injury. Charles won the AFC rushing title in 2013 with 1,287 yards.
Bell won the AFC rushing title in 2014 with 1,361 yards but missed the bulk of 2015 (10 games) with a knee injury. He returns to the Pittsburgh lineup to start his season Sunday against the Chiefs.