Visit NFL from the sidelines on the new Observer-Reporter site:

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Bell out for the first month

Given the situation, things could have been worse for rookie running back Le'Veon Bell.

As I expected, Bell has a Lisfranc injury in his right foot. The Steelers, however, feel it is treatable without surgery, unlike the one suffered by tight end Matt Spaeth.

The injury will still sideline Bell for at least the first month of the season, but he'll be ready from October on.

In the meantime, the Steelers will make do with Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer and LaRod Stephens-Howling at running back.

The loser in the situation? Baron Batch.

Had been not been injured, Bell might have made this team instead of Dwyer.

After all, a healthy Bell and Redman - along with Stephens-Howling - would have been able to handle the rushing duties.

So the fourth running back spot would have come down to special teams. And Batch is a better special teams player.

Now, unless the Steelers decide to place Bell on the IR with return designation and lose him for half the season, Batch will likely be given his walking papers.

The Steelers can't carry six running backs to start the season.

@ I asked Redman today what he thought co-starter meant and he replied that he had no idea.

Redman, of course, had been listed as a co-starter at running back with Bell.

Redman said he didn't find out he was a co-starter - Bell was elevated last week - until he was asked about it by a reporter.

@ Talked to LaMarr Woodley today. Asked him if he was watching James Harrison on HBO.

Woodley said he caught the third episode on Tuesday night, one that featured Harrison working out and then getting accupuncture treatments.

I asked if he had ever tried the accupuncture treatments, which some Steelers, including Harrison and James Farrior, swear by. He said he'd tried it a few times, but didn't like it. Doesn't like needles.

Woodley also said his sack Monday night doesn't prove he's feeling any better or worse than last season. He has higher expectations for himself.

I think he's primed for a big year.


adamg said...

I thought a player could only be on PUP if he could not start training camp and he can't be put on it if he gets injured during camp/preseason. Has that changed?

IIRC, Spaeth has the IR comeback designation. Can teams remove that designation and put another player on? I realize that would mean Spaeth would be done for the season, but Bell is much more important to the future than a washed up TE signed only as a stopgap. Also, being out 8 weeks would give him an extra 2 weeks to heal completely.

Dale Lolley said...

Right. I misspoked on that.
Actually, Spaeth is far from washed up. Pro Football Focus rated him as the best run blocking tight end in the NFL last season.

But it won't matter. The Steelers won't put Bell on IR with the return designation, because it's the same thing, he would then miss half the season. They don't think he'll be out that long.

Anonymous said...

A lisfranc can be a bad injury for a running back but it has a lot to do with the seriousness of it. Hopefully Bell can come back from this without ill effect on cutting and planting.
If it is non surgical it means less than 3mm of separation. This one seems to be mild. It likely happened when his foot was extended out like a ballerina and those two guys fell on his heel. (the two guys Paulson wiffed on)
I think David Johnson and the new tight end from Seattle may win the job over Paulson. He can catch but his blocking is a liability.
Mrs. Isaac redman

adamg said...

No offense to profootballfocus, but if they think Spaeth is the best blocking TE in the NFL, they are not to be taken seriously. I watched Spaeth block with my own two eyes during his first stint. He is an average blocker and that's being kind.

Anonymous said...

PFF is the goods. They don't just rate guys subjectively. I'm sure they broke down the tape.

And Spaeth is basically a glorified OT. Best in the NFL at blocking? Dunno about that, but he could be in the conversation. Especially if you're only talking about one season(which they were).

marc said...

hard to imagine spaeth being a better run blocking TE than miller, don't you think?

regarding bell, i hope they don't try to rush him back to play. make sure he's clearly 100% even if that means missing into november.

regarding woodley, many thought he was primed for a big year last season as well. we'll see.

Anonymous said...

woodley's a joke. his listed weight should be 295. put him in at nose tackle.

Nate said...

Matt Spaeth is an unbelievable blocker. I'm not sure what adamg saw, but he's essentially a 3rd OT. He's not much of a receiver. His career long reception is 13 yards!

As for Woodley, Steelers Depot has a great post about his performance against the Redskins. They show three plays that really showcase Woodley's all around fitness this year.

1) Woodley completely controls a tight end on an outside zone pitch, forcing the running back to cut back inside for a slight gain.

2) He uses speed and power on the right tackle to collapse the pocket.

3) He drops into perfect coverage on TE Fred Davis on a third down play.

adamg said...

You do know Spaeth was the Mackey Award winner at MN as best receiving TE in college football right? As for his blocking skills, I'm sure you could go back on this site and search the post-game comments about Spaeth's inadequate blocking. You know how highly Spaeth was regarded by the Steelers since they let him walk as a UFA. The only reason he's back is the rash of injuries to the TEs and is familiar to Tomlin and the organization. Once Miller gets back, he's 4th on the depth chart behind Miller, DJ and Paulson.

As for PFF, what can you say about a site that has to spam every sports-related blog to get attention?

Jim said...

So who gets the starting RB job to open the season? I know Redman would seem to be the default starter, based on the fact that the other "co-starter" is now out, but I think Dwyer is the better lead back. He looked pretty good the other night, though it is admittedly the preseason. He's shown flashes at times, with his main negative being, as you've pointed out numerous times, Dale, that he can't seem to stay in the game for extended periods of time (comes out for a breather). Has perhaps the pressure of his job being in jeopardy lit a fire under his butt?

Dale Lolley said...

Redman will be the starter barring something unforeseen. Of course, he was the starter going into last season as well and got hurt.

Anonymous said...

What did Dwyer do that looked so good Monday night? He didn't break tackles, juke defenders or burn anyone with speed. Those runs he got were ALL due to the blocking. I didn't see him create any yards on his own. Heck on one play he misread his block and RAN INTO the tackler.

Totally mediocre player.

marc said...

redman and dwyer appear to both be mediocre and not capable of handling the starting spot based on last year. that's why the steelers had to go out and get bell.

the problem going into the season for the offense will be that the steelers do not have a reliable pass catching TE or a real threat at RB. defenses will be able to commit less to stop the run and focus more on brown/sanders in the passing game. the success of the offense early on will rely on the o-line to block very well and #7 to find the mismatches against the defense which may often lead to the 3rd or 4th option on a pass play (or audibling out to another play altogether).