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LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – Running Back Le’Veon Bell (#26) of the Kansas City Chiefs runs against the Las Vegas Raider in the second half of their game at the Allegiant Stadium on November 22, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo : Chris Unger/Getty Images)
The Baltimore Ravens have turned to an old rival to shore up their running back ranks, with ESPN‘s Adam Schefter reporting that they have signed former Pittsburgh Steelers star Le’Veon Bell to their practice squad. Once Bell is ready, the Ravens will add him to their active 53-man roster for the 2021 NFL season.
Bell will provide much-needed depth to the Ravens’ running back group, which has been plagued by injuries lately. Projected Week 1 starter J.K. Dobbins tore his ACL in Week 3 of the preseason against the Washington Football Team, while backup Justice Hill recently went down injured with a torn Achilles.
Bell defeats Freeman in the race for backup role
Bell won the race to be the Ravens’ new ball-carrier, beating out former Atlanta Falcon Devonta Freeman for the coveted running back spot. The Ravens know Bell’s talents fully well, as he was one of their regular tormentors during his previous stint with the hated Steelers.
Bell established himself as one of the best players in the NFL during his five-year career with Pittsburgh, with the Michigan State product racking up 7,996 yards from scrimmage and 42 total touchdowns from 2013 to 2017.
Bell was a legitimate dual-threat weapon for the Steelers, owning several franchise records, including most receiving yards by a running back (854) and most catches by a running back in a single season (85). Bell also owns the two highest rushing totals in a playoff game for Pittsburgh.
Bell, who made three Pro Bowls and was named All-Pro four times during his stay with Pittsburgh, has never been the same since he decided to sit out the 2018 season. Bell, who gained over 1,000 rushing yards in three of his five seasons with the Steelers, amassed a total of just 328 rushing yards and two touchdowns last season with the New York Jets and eventual NFC champions Kansas City Chiefs.
Ravens finally sign Bell after near union in 2019
This isn’t the first time that the Ravens and Bell crossed paths in free agency. Bell came close to signing with Baltimore in 2019, but the Ravens opted to choose Mark Ingram instead. Ingram was released last January after playing two seasons with the Ravens.
The Ravens have a history of signing veteran Pro Bowlers to their practice squad. Last season, the Ravens took a gamble on Dez Bryant, adding him to their practice squad before elevating him to their 53-man roster.
The Ravens hope their gamble on Bell will work this time around and that he can recreate the form he showed against them before. Bell racked up 807 yards rushing and seven touchdowns in 10 appearances against the Ravens. He also caught 49 passes for 349 yards with another three touchdowns during that stretch.
The Ravens expect Bell to provide much-needed experience and pass-catching ability behind their starting running back Gus Edwards and backup Ty’Son Williams this season.
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