Ravens middle linebacker Daryl Smith has built a thorough scouting report on Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell, one of the top young offensive players in the NFL.
The last time the Ravens faced Bell during his rookie season last November, the versatile three-down back rushed for 73 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries in the Steelers' 22-20 loss. He also caught seven passes for 63 yards.
Now, the Ravens are preparing to square off again with the 6-foot-1, 244-pound Bell tonight at M&T Bank Stadium.
"Le'Veon's a very good back," Smith said. "I think he's really wise beyond his years as far as being patient and knowing when and where to make the cut. He anticipates well. He's got it all: speed, power, quickness. It will be a tough matchup."
Bell is coming off a highly impressive season-opening performance against the Cleveland Browns where he rushed for 109 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries and caught six passes for 88 yards to pile up 197 yards from scrimmage. No Steelers running back had generated that many total yards since Willie Parker piled up 223 yards in a 2006 game against the Browns.
Bell said that the Ravens' inside linebackers, including Smith and rookie C.J. Mosley, present a tougher assignment for him than last week.
"It's going to definitely be a challenge because they are a lot different than the linebackers we played from Cleveland last week," Bell said in comments emailed to The Baltimore Sun from the Steelers' public relations department. "Those guys run really well and they're big so it's going to be a challenge for me."
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Bell finished last season with 1,259 yards from scrimmage, ranking him second in the NFL among rookies last year behind Green Bay Packers standout Eddie Lacy, who finished with 1,435 yards.
Bell caught 45 passes for 399 yards and rushed for 860 yards and eight touchdowns last season after being drafted in the second round out of Michigan State.
"Just based on film, he's definitely a guy who can make you miss," said Mosley, the Ravens' talented first-round draft pick. "If you don't respect his power, he can run you over. You've got to get every guy around him. As long as you gang-tackle him, you should be all right. We know what he brings. Everybody's got to hit him."
Bell generated 166 yards in two games against the Ravens last season.
"I just think our offense did a great job with giving me the opportunity to get the ball and make plays," Bell said. "I made the plays when the opportunity was presented to me. So, I'm just trying to go out there and duplicate that this week and do the best that I can."