Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has to be wondering what ladder he walked under to avoid the black cat in front of him to have so much bad luck when it comes to running backs.
Tomlin said Steelers rookie running back Le’Veon Bell will not play this weekend because of a mid-foot sprain, and the news got worse on Wednesday afternoon. Fox's Jay Glazer reported that Bell has the dreaded Lisfranc foot injury, although they're hoping he avoids surgery. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported on Tuesday that Bell would miss an extended period of time.
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And if losing their prized rookie running back for an extended period wasn't enough, many of his possible replacements are banged up too.
In addition to Bell, Isaac Redman (stinger), LaRod Stephens-Howling (knee), starting fullback Will Johnson (ribs), and Baron Batch (stinger) are battling through injuries. Redman is expected to practice today and might have a chance to become Pittsburgh’s starter as long as Bell is out.
Redman started in five games and finished with 410 rushing yards and two touchdowns in 2012. He had two carries for 7 yards against the New York Giants in the preseason opener. Against Washington on Monday night, Jonathan Dwyer did his best to stake a claim for the starting job, with 14 carries for 68 yards plus two receptions for 12 yards.
Bell was a second-round pick by the Steelers this offseason. Pittsburgh hoped Bell would solidify a backfield that featured Rashard Mendenhall, Redman and Dwyer last year and wasn't very good. Pittsburgh’s rushing offense was ranked 26th in yards per game (96.1). Bell's presence was supposed to make Ben Roethlisberger's job easier. The loss of Bell will hurt an offense that is already trying to move forward without receiver Mike Wallace, who signed with Miami, and tight end Heath Miller, who is still recovering from a major knee injury. Backup tight end Matt Spaeth is also expected to be out until at least October with a foot injury.
Considering Tomlin was not satisfied with the running game last season, he faces some tough decisions with the regular season right around the corner.