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Taking backs on backers to the next level


LATROBE, Pa. – It's one of the most anticipated drills of practice, when running backs go against linebackers in what is often a heated version of backs on backers.

Tempers flare, some pushing and shoving goes on after the play ends, and pride is on the line as both sides want to walk away the winner.

The good thing, though, is it stays there. On the field. And the prime example of that is the relationship that is forming between third-year running back Le'Veon Bell and rookie linebacker Bud Dupree.

"Bud has been doing a great job," said Bell. "I had to block him yesterday and it was crazy. He is doing a great job. He is a guy going out there putting it on the line each and every day."

Seeing that potential, seeing what Dupree is made of, has Bell staying close to the rookie, helping him in his adjustment to the NFL and giving him tips on how to take care of his body. And when a guy like Bell, who has 2.9% body fat offers you tips about caring for your body, why not listen.

"I took him by my side off the field, going in the cold tub, making sure he is going in the hot tub, taking care of his body because he is going to be a good player for us," said Bell. "He is a guy who came around me, saw me in the cold tub. I told him 25 minutes. He has been sitting in there with me. I saw him struggle a few times, shivering a little bit, but is sticking in there. As a rookie it is hard to do that. As a rookie my guy was Jerricho Cotchery. He was the guy I looked up to. Now in my third year I am helping those guys out."

And it's something Dupree appreciates, despite the fact that it's given him the chills a few times.

"It hurts when you first get in (the cold tub), but after a while it's better," said Dupree. "We try and do 30 minutes a day. He does more than me, he does it twice a day. Your legs feel good when you get out. He is helping me eating wise, body wise, getting my body right, just trying to follow the things he does.

"It's always good to have people who want to look out for you and help you be the best that you can be and see potential in you."

It's a highlight of Steelers Training Camp, when the running backs and linebackers square off.

Potential is something Bell definitely sees in Dupree, the Steelers' No. 1 draft pick out of Kentucky.

"He has been out there making plays," said Bell. "He has some things you can't coach in a player. When you have that natural ability you just touch them up sometimes and let him go. He has been showing what he is able to do.

"Just his start off the ball. He is a great pass rusher. He does a great job of anticipating the snap, even when it's on two or three. He kind of keys the ball real well, as soon as it's snapped, he is gone. That is something you can't really coach. You either have got it or you don't. He has been making a lot of plays. He is a big guy, explosive, has a great jump, pass rush moves. Now he just has to learn the playbook, learn not to think. He has been doing an excellent job."

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