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Steelers Rule Out Running Back Le'Veon Bell

Posted Jan 2, 2015

Pittsburgh will be without its Pro Bowler, who has been a huge part of its rushing and passing game.

The Steelers ruled out running back Le’Veon Bell Friday afternoon, removing a huge piece of their No. 2-ranked offense.

They announced the news via their website before the final injury report was released. Bell suffered a hyperextended knee last Sunday in the regular-season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals and didn’t practice this week.

It’s a big loss for the Steelers offense, and thus a break for Baltimore’s defense.

Bell was named the Steelers’ MVP this season. The 2014 Pro Bowler is the NFL’s second-leading rusher with 1,361 yards. He’s a patient rusher, who has gotten the best of the Ravens in past meetings.

Bell is also a big part of Pittsburgh’s passing game, both as a pass protector and target for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Bell caught 83 passes for 854 yards and three touchdowns this season.

“Le’Veon Bell is probably one of the best running backs out there right now, so it’s going to be a big impact if he’s not playing,” defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said this week.

The Ravens have been monitoring news to see if Bell would be out throughout the week. Head Coach John Harbaugh joked that he would still be suspicious even if Bell was ruled out.

Without having to fear the Steelers’ rushing attack as much, Baltimore’s pass rush should have more freedom to attack quarterback Ben Roethlisberger if he’s dropping back to pass more.

“The game plan will change based on how their game plan changes, if it does,” Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees said. “At this point in the season, you have to look at everything that they do and take into account if [Bell] plays, if he doesn’t play, what might they go to.”

The Steelers’ likely starting running back will be Josh Harris, who Pittsburgh brought up from the practice squad after LeGarrett Blount was released. Harris ran five times for seven yards after Bell went down last week. He has nine carries on the season.

Pittsburgh can also use speedy rookie Dri Archer and Ben Tate, who they signed this week.

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