Thursday, August 15, 2013

For Steelers To Be Successful, They Must Grade On A Bell Curve; Injury Report


UPDATED: 8/16/13
With several positions being manned by different players this upcoming season, many talking heads have the Pittsburgh Steelers written off already, putting them into third or even last place in the division.

The Steelers, though, believe they have the formula for curing many ills. They have set their sights once again on dominating the line of scrimmage and controlling the clock. In the best years they have known, there was always one constant to their offense. That is the ability to run the ball with a lead late in the game and thereby finishing off an opponent.

With the drafting of four offensive linemen and one running back in the first and second rounds in the last four years, the team with the most rushing yards since the NFL/AFL merger have shown that their desire is to excel in that area again. NFL.com's Jason LaCanfora believes these young players portend good things for the Steelers. - http://tinyurl.com/lvhhwsm

The pass oriented NFL isn't being ignored by the Steelers by any means. But they realize that to excel completely at the pass, the run must be established.

Not meaning running on first and second to set up a pass on third, but to establish the threat if nothing else. And a threat is only viable if there is actual fear-based believability. I tell you I'll punch you in the mouth, you scoff. I just do it, and often enough, and the threat is real.

That means the running game must increase its production, and it must do so early in the season. According to Lance Zierlein of Rotoworld.com and TheSidelineView.com, he doesn't expect "the running attack to explode overnight", but he does expect a measured improvement.

"This year, the Steelers are in pretty good shape from a health standpoint on the line and they have a new feature back in rookie Le'Veon Bell....I do think we will finally see the Steelers actually commit to running the football."

Based on what the Steelers running backs coach, Kirby Wilson said last week, the Steelers believe the same.

“You would love to have a back who can play first down through third down," said Wilson. "That’s always the best. Now, you have players who can spell a starter, then you have situational players that have strengths in other areas, put for the most part you always want a guy who is there first through third.”

He and they believe Bell is that back.

However, that can only be done if he and the other players in this are healthy going into as well as throughout the season.

That sound you heard Thursday was the collective breath inhalation and Gasp! of Steeler Nation as Isaac Redman and, maybe more importantly, Bell went down to injuries. Behind the Steel Curtain covered the Redman situation earlier today. - http://tinyurl.com/lu37vqz

As for Bell, he re-aggravated his left knee injury Thursday, the same knee that kept him out of the first preseason game against the Giants, forcing him to watch the conclusion of practice with his leg in ice.

Per Steelers Digest's Bob Labriola, "When Le'Veon Bell aggravated his left knee in practice today, it was not a live tackling session. Bell to be evaluated." Current word is a mild MCL sprain.

NFL.com's Ian Rapoport said that he hears Bell's knee is "fine." Jim Wexell backed that up with his next tweet.


As does DVE's Mike Prisuta.


This comes one day after Bell had been elevated to co-starter status alongside Redman on the team's depth chart. With the Steelers' next preseason game being Monday night, both running backs have time to recover.

As a side point, this is also why the Steelers didn't and wouldn't have cut or traded Jonathan Dwyer. He has shown he can tote the rock and that they can win with him as feature back. He just wasn't consistent enough and was oft injured. Now this with the others.

When looking at the immediate future of this season's team. I see it as Le'Veon Bell, Isaac Redman and LaRod Stephens-Howling, with Will Johnson at fullback. Yes, Dwyer could make the team, but he isn't a special teams guy and is basically another Redman.

As we've written before, the war of attrition has begun. Let's hope that the Steelers know how to balance the fine line between battle testing a player and breaking him. To do so, especially for one whom they want to be their future, they might want to start grading on a Bell curve.

UPDATE: Le'Veon Bell re-aggravated knee bruise. No MCL damage or tears.

Bob Labriola tweeted from his Twitter (@BobLabriola) account: "RB Jeremy Wright signed and PK Daniel Hrapmann waived. Relax, Steelers Nation. This DOES NOT mean Le'Veon Bell's injury is serious."

"For this afternoon's practice, Le'Veon Bell is expected to be dressed and on the field. That indicates his injury isn't serious."
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TIDBITS: The injuries continue to pile up. During their Thursday practice, rookie linebacker Jarvis Jones tweaked his groin. Dale Lolley of the Washington (County) Observer reported that he does not believe the injury is serious.

So, Redman has a stinger, Bell re-aggravated his knee, Jones tweaked his groin and OLineman Justin Cheadle has a significant hamstring injury. Tomlin says it's "a matter of weeks and not days.”