Bell: 'I still have things to prove'


Running back Le'Veon Bell is loving being on the field for Steelers OTAs. It doesn't even matter if people refer to it as, "Football in shorts." Bottom line is - it's football.

Back in January he would have given anything to be on the field with his teammates, preparing for the AFC Wild Card game against the Baltimore Ravens. But he was sidelined with a knee injury, turning the NFL's second leading rusher into a spectator.  

Fast forward to five months later and he is close to 100 percent, feeling good, and ready to take the next step, one that he feels can propel him to the next level in the NFL.

"I am really excited about my growth," said Bell following the team's fifth OTA session. "I feel like I learned a lot. I feel like I got faster and more explosive.

"I still have things to prove. I don't feel like I get the credit around the league that I deserve and I am trying to go out and earn it."

It's not often someone who has accomplished what Bell has in such a short time feels the need to prove themselves, but Bell strives to be the best, strives for perfection.

Bell was voted Steelers 2014 MVP, finishing the season with 290 carries for 1,361 yards, a 4.7 yard average and eight touchdowns. He set a Steelers' record in 2014 with 2,215 yards from scrimmage, finishing second in the NFL in that category.  He also set a single season record for running backs in receptions with 83 and receiving yards with 854, and with the most first downs in a season with 114 and rushed for the fifth-most yards (1,361) in a single season in team history.

Bell was named co-AFC Offensive Player of the Year by NFL 101 along with Antonio Brown.

But if you talked to him, you wouldn't realize all of that happened last year.

"I still made a lot of mistakes," said Bell. "There were a lot of times I might have taken a hole too early. People consider me patient, but I like to hold myself to a higher standard. There are still some holes I feel like I hit a little too quickly and some routes where I didn't get open.

"I want to go out there and be perfect every time. If I am not that, I feel like I am letting myself down, my team down."

Perfection isn't easy. Not in a game where 11 guys are coming at you full steam ahead to ensure that you are anything but perfect.

"It's tough, but I hold my standards high," said Bell. "I feel like I can do that. I feel like I can go out there and make every catch, I feel like I get open every time I get my route called. I feel like I can hit my hole and get positive yards on every play. I want to do that and show what I am capable of doing and show I can be one of the top players in this league."

There is someone out there who definitely feels like Bell can be one of the top players, and that is former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2015.  

The Steelers participate in Day 5 of the 2015 Organized Team Activities at the Steelers practice facility.

"I think if he continues on his course, I think he can be one of the best that ever put on a uniform — not just a Steelers uniform, one of the best running backs ever," Bettis told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  

Those are words Bell is amazed to hear.

"It's an honor," said Bell. "A Hall of Famer saying that, and a Pittsburgh Steeler saying that. He is a guy I grew up watching every Sunday because my family grew up diehard Pittsburgh Steelers fans. I remember watching him bruise people over, making people miss in a hole. He helped make my game the way it is now.

"To hear him say that, I don't want to let him down, my family, the rest of Steelers Nation. I just have to go out there and continue to show what I can do, show my growth, because I have been out here working hard."

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