On Saturday afternoon the Baltimore Ravens elevated former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell from the practice squad to the active/inactive roster. It sets the stage for Bell to make his Ravens debut against the Denver Broncos on Sunday Oct. 3 at Empower Field at Mile High.
Bell joins Ty’Son Williams, Latavius Murray and Devonta Freeman as the Ravens running backs eligible to play against the undefeated Broncos, though one of the four figures to be inactive. Don’t expect Bell to be the odd man out, though.
According to Baltimore-based ESPN staff writer Jamison Hensley, Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman said this week that he’s “been very impressed” with Bell and “you can see why he’s been so successful.” Hensley went on to indicate that Bell will play against the Broncos.
For his part, Jeff Zrebiec, who covers the Ravens for The Athletic, believes that either Williams or Freeman will be inactive.
“Ravens coaches haven’t criticized Williams publicly, but it’s clear they feel he has run tentatively the past two weeks and he also has two fumbles,” notes Zrebiec, though it’s hard to ignore that Williams is averaging 6.1 yards per carry this season.
As for Bell, Zrebeic says “there’s a curiosity about how he’ll perform,” now that he has had three weeks to work himself into game shape.
Le’Veon Bell Joined the Ravens in Early September
Baltimore signed Bell to its practice squad on Sept. 7, 2021, but he has yet to make an appearance in a purple jersey. That is, unless you count Baltimore’s trip to Denver on Saturday, when he honored Ravens placekicker Justin Tucker—aka the GOAT, according to Bell—by wearing Tucker’s No. 9 jersey while en route.
Tucker—who is considered by many to be the best NFL kicker of all-time—earned national recognition on Sept. 26 when he made a 66-yard field goal as time expired to beat the Detroit Lions 19-17. It was the longest field goal in NFL history, beating the old record of 64 yards, which was set by Broncos kicker Matt Prater against the Tennessee Titans in 2013.
Of course, Bell will be back to wearing No. 26 on Sunday, as he has done at each of his four NFL stops. If he has any hope of serving as Baltimore’s feature back, he’ll have to look much better than he did in his last two NFL stops, with the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs. Per Pro Football Reference (PFR), Bell was a two-time first-team All-Pro with the Steelers between 2013-17, but in the years since he has a total of 327 carries for 1,117 yards and five rushing touchdowns.
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Baltimore’s Roster Features Another Former Steeler
Assuming Bell makes his Ravens debut on Sunday, he will be well-acquainted with one of the five lineman blocking for him, as Baltimore’s offense also features former Steelers offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva, who had a disastrous Ravens debut but has looked much better in the two games since.
The Ravens also employ ex-Steelers linebacker L.J. Fort, but Fort suffered a torn ACL during a preseason game against the Carolina Panthers in August 2021. He is currently on Baltimore’s injured reserve list.
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