Le’Veon Bell may have spent the first five years of his NFL career terrorizing the Baltimore Ravens defense as a Pittsburgh Steeler, but he told media yesterday that he was “foaming at the mouth” to join the Ravens in September.
After showing flashes of his former All-Pro self but struggling to produce in his first three games this season, Bell had a mini-breakout against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, running for 48 yards on 11 carries.
He came through for the Ravens in two key moments, first with a one-yard touchdown to take the lead late in the fourth quarter, and later with a 12-yard run that set up Justin Tucker’s game-winning field goal.
“It feels good to get on the field and make some plays with my teammates,” said Bell with a smile on Tuesday.
Still, it’s somewhat strange to see Bell wearing purple and black after the Ravens got used to seeing him on the other side of the field, as well as fellow Steeler-turned-Raven Alejandro Villanueva.
Head coach John Harbaugh didn’t think either player brought any baggage from Pittsburgh with them, saying on Monday, “When they get here, they’re Ravens. They’re into it and they’re part of the team.”
But according to Bell, ending up in Baltimore wasn’t “far-fetched.”
“Honestly, when I first left [Pittsburgh], the Ravens were one of the teams I was kind of looking at,” said Bell, who added that he was “really happy for the opportunity to be here.”
So far, the Ravens haven’t disappointed, as a football team or an organization.
“Literally the first day I got here, everybody, my teammates, everybody in the cafeteria, the coaches, welcomed me with open arms,” said the veteran running back. Bell’s chemistry and fit in Baltimore were initial concerns when news first broke of his signing, as he’s engaged in messy public disputes with multiple of his former teams throughout his career.
But in Baltimore, Bell immediately took note of the “family-oriented” culture, helping him smoothly transition into a new franchise.
Fitting Into the Offense
Bell has been especially excited to play with quarterback Lamar Jackson, who Bell called a “special type of player.”
It did take some time for Bell to find his role in the Ravens’ offense, which began with him getting his “football legs” under him after going unsigned during training camp.
“The hardest thing for me was learning the offense and getting comfortable with the O-line,” said Bell, who didn’t see the field until Week 4 against the Denver Broncos.
Playing in the same backfield as Jackson also took some adjustment, as the Ravens’ use of read-options and RPOs make handoffs a tricky endeavor.
Bell feels that “the coaches did a great job of not putting too much on my plate,” so now his coordination with Jackson is “second nature.”
He further complimented Harbaugh, calling him “one of the better coaches in the league.”
‘Sky’s the Limit’ For 2021 Ravens
When asked about the Ravens’ potential this season, Bell pointed out that he and the Ravens “haven’t even played out best football this season.”
With Baltimore sitting atop the AFC North at 6-2, largely due to repeated brilliance from Lamar Jackson, that’s a scary statement for future opponents.
“I think this could be a very special team,” said Bell, who has yet to reach a Super Bowl in his nine-year career.
But with a weakened AFC and a high-flying Ravens team, he could be closer than every to his first Lombardi Trophy.
“I think the sky’s the limit for this team,” he concluded.