The decimation of the Pittsburgh Steelers roster continues as star running back Le'Veon Bell has been added to the team's injured reserve list (IR) effectively ending his year.
Bell was injured during the second quarter of Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals when he was tackled on the Steelers sideline landing on his leg at a painfully awkward angle. It was clear the way Bell's leg bent that it would likely induce a serious injury, which was confirmed on Monday when the Steelers announced that Bell had suffered an MCL tear that has ended his season.
What does this mean for the Steelers now? Can they survive without him and make it to the postseason without their elusive and explosive runner? Only time will tell, but let's examine further how I think the Steelers can survive without him.
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Firstly, Bell's backup is DeAngelo Williams, all-time leading rusher for the Carolina Panthers. You may have heard about him being the league's leading rusher during the first two weeks of the season while Bell served a suspension. So this guy can play! The Steelers have also signed a decent runner to back up Williams in Isaiah Pead.
You may have also heard of Ben Roethlisberger. Yes, the Steelers still have their franchise quarterback (although he didn't look too good on his return from injury this past Sunday) so despite Bell's absence, the Steelers still have a guy who can pick apart a defence with his arm.
These two players can carry the Steelers offense while Bell is gone and they did so in fine fashion for the first two weeks of the season. Despite a loss to the Patriots week one, Williams ran the ball superbly, and Ben was Ben, especially in the 43-18 blowout win versus the San Francisco 49ers in week two.
With a very hot Raiders team coming to Heinz Field this weekend, and with Ben Roethlisberger still shaking off the rust from his recent absence due to injury, Williams should be a key contributor to the Steelers going forward.
Another facet of this Steelers team, something t
hat isn't mentioned enough, is the great performance the Steelers defence has put up since losing to the Patriots week one.
Most people generalise their assessment of the Steelers defense as 'bad' and use the Patriots game as an example, but watching the games the Steelers have played since shows a defense that is quick, young, can get after quarterbacks, and plays great red zone defence. On the defensive side of the ball they have exceeded all expectations and have been improving all season.
One question does loom large, though, who is next? This has been a disastrous season for the Steelers who now have three high-quality players sitting on IR; Maurkice Pouncey, Kelvin Beachum, and now Bell. The Steelers cannot take on any more injuries on the offensive side of the ball, more losses could prove to be too big a hurdle for the Steelers to jump, especially as they fight for that precious AFC Wildcard spot.
Only time will tell if the Steelers can stay afloat without Bell, but with a franchise quarterback who has won multiple Super Bowl, high-class receivers such as Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant, the Panthers' all-time leading rusher in DeAngelo Williams, and a defense that is playing extremely well, I'd say the Steelers are pretty well set to handle Bell's absence.
In the meantime, get well Le'Veon, we'll miss you!
Can the Pittsburgh Steelers still make the playoffs? Give YOUR opinion in the comment box below