Mike Tomlin admittedly isn't "overly concerned" about Le'Veon Bell's increased workload of late.
Bell isn't, either.
"If anything, they can give me more," Bell insisted. "I'm able to handle whatever they can give me."
The Steelers seemingly have become determined to test Bell's limits toward that end heading into Sunday's showdown in Cincinnati. Bell carried the ball 33 times and rushed for 204 yards and caught two passes for 18 more on Nov. 17 in Nashville. He followed up that performance with a 21-carry, eight-catch effort that produced a combined 254 yards on Nov. 30 against New Orleans.
It's what the Steelers had in mind for Bell all along this season. And it's what helped first attract the Steelers to Bell during his days at Michigan State.
"I had 50 touches in college," Bell remembered. "The Boise State game (in 2012) I had 44 carries (for 217 yards) and six catches (for 55 more), first game of the season. 'Coach T' loved that about me. He knew I could carry the load if asked."
The Steelers began asking more of Bell after their loss to the Jets on Nov. 9, a move they had intended to make at the appropriate time after initially using LeGarrette Blount as a complement/short-yardage back to save wear and tear on Bell.
"It means everything to me," Bell said. "I'm glad the coaches put a lot of trust in me."
Bell conditioned himself in the offseason to prepare for just such a scenario. Now that it has begun to unfold he's determined to hold up his end.
"I haven't taken myself out, no," he said. "If I'm dog tired and I don't feel I can do the next play then maybe, but I haven't gotten to that point. I don't feel like I've been close to that point where I was too tired for the next play.
"Sometimes (running backs) Coach (James) Saxon takes me out of the game and tells me, 'take a couple plays,' but that's on the coaches. When I'm out there, I'm out there just kind of zoned in, tuned in to what I have to do. I don't really realize I played 89 plays or whatever it may be until after the game and they tell me, and it's already over then.
"As long as I continue to take care of my body, I'll be fine."