The Pittsburgh Steelers felt so comfortable with the job being done by second-year running back Le'Veon Bell that they had no qualms about releasing fellow RB LeGarrette Blount last month after his indiscretion.
Indeed Bell has enjoyed a breakout year for the Steelers, racking up 1,046 yards on the ground and a further 643 receiving, and becoming Pittsburgh's every down back in the process.
But while the 22-year-old's rise has been impressive, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has today voiced concerns over how the team uses him in the coming weeks.
"I hope we don't run him into the ground," Roethlisberger on Le'Veon Bell
Too much too young?
Speaking to Pittsburgh radio show, 93.7 The Fan, Big Ben urged caution as the team heads into the business end of the season.
"I don't know of a running back since I've been here that has basically been able to play every single snap, but you do have to be careful," the veteran quarterback explained.
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"I hope we don't run him into the ground if you will, but it's that stretch of the year where everyone's going to give it everything they have."
At the present moment it looks like Bell can keep going for as long as required, but with rookie Dri Archer the only legitimate back up in Pittsburgh the Steelers coaching staff will have to be careful not to leave themselves exposed as they bid to reach the playoffs.
Head coach Mike Tomlin doesn't seem too worried by the concerns raised by Roethlisberger though. With Bell having racked up a career high 254 yards on offense against the New Orleans Saints in Week 13 - playing all but two of the team's snaps that day - Tomlin backed his stud running back to carry on in the coming weeks.
""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."
With Roethlisberger having thrown for two interceptions against the Saints and completing less than 50 percent of his passing attempts the future for the Steelers may very well revolve around Bell.
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