FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots will have their hands full with Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, and Bill Belichick knows it.
The Patriots head coach wouldn’t let a reporter finish his question about Bell before interrupting with gushing praise.
“Oh my god. Tremendous player,” Belichick said Wednesday.” Great hands catching the ball, very quick, makes people miss, strong, breaks tackles, excellent balance, tough, doesn’t run out of bounds, fights for extra yardage, great player.”
Belichick later said Bell is “as good as anybody” the Patriots will play this season.
Bell missed the first three weeks of the season with a three-game suspension but already has tallied 48 carries for 263 yards and 20 receptions for 177 yards. Bell’s best season came in 2014, when he finished second in the NFL with 2,215 yards from scrimmage.
Bell isn’t the only running threat on the Steelers. Backup DeAngelo Williams excelled with Bell out. He has 74 carries for 275 yards with three touchdowns and 15 catches for 91 yards with a score on the season.
“DeAngelo Williams led the league in rushing in the two weeks he played earlier in the year, he had a lot of carries,” Belichick said. “He’s had a tremendous career, really one of the all-time great careers. Statistically he’s been tremendous. Again, they have a lot of depth at every position, they have a lot of depth at running back. It doesn’t matter who’s in there, they’re a problem.”
The Patriots are ninth in the NFL in run defense, allowing 92 yards per game. They also rank ninth, allowing 3.7 yards per rushing attempt. The Patriots have allowed 273 receiving yards to running backs this season, so stopping Bell in the passing game will be key.
Thumbnail photo via Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports Images