Pittsburgh Steelers rookie Le'Veon Bell is the projected starting running back but it definitely won't happen until Bell proves he can play at the NFL level when he doesn't have the ball in his hands. “Around here, if you don't block, you don't play,” Dwyer said.
That's a longstanding unwritten rule around the league when it comes to ball carriers. For running backs coach Kirby Wilson, it is not just tough talk.
“That's anybody. That's any running back,” Wilson said. “You have to be able to protect the quarterback or you won't play. That's not just in Pittsburgh. That's in every NFL city.”
Bell has been brought up to speed quickly on Wilson's top rule over the past month at spring practices and has bought into the importance of the running backs doing their part in protecting $102 million quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Wilson won't hesitate to keep Bell on the bench, regardless of how well he runs the ball, if he can't trust him picking up a blitzing linebacker.
Bell sits behind Dwyer, Redman, Baron Batch and LaRod Stephens-Howling on the depth chart heading into training camp July 26, but that could change by early September.
“I am going to come in here and compete and do the best that I can,” Bell said. “I am not promised a spot or saying that I am a starter. I am just going to come in and compete and work with whatever role I get.”
And that role will most definitely be determined by how he blocks.