The Pittsburgh Steelers have ruled out Pro Bowl running back Le'Veon Bell for Saturday night's AFC wild-card playoff game against the Ravens, the team announced.
Bell has a hyperextended knee and hasn't practiced all week after getting hurt on a low tackle by Cincinnati Bengals safety Reggie Nelson last Sunday.
Although Bell suffered no ligament damage, he's unable to play this week. That should affect the game, despite Bell rushing for just 59 yards and 20 yards in two regular-season games against the Ravens, because of his ability to catch passes out of the backfield and as a blocker.
Bell emerged as arguably the top all-purpose running back in the NFL this season, rushing for 1,361 yards and eight touchdowns and catching 83 passes for 854 yards and three touchdowns.
Steelers rookie running back Dri Archer, a third-round draft pick, has rushed for just 40 yards on 10 carries this season, and Josh Harris has 16 yards on nine carries. In relief of Bell, Harris had a 59-yard run called back against the Bengals due to a holding penalty.
Harris is expected to shoulder the majority of the workload. The Steelers also signed veteran runner Ben Tate this week. The Ravens' defense ranks fourth against the run, allowing just 88.3 rushing yards per game.
"At this point in the season, you have to look at everything that they do and take into account if [Bell] plays, if he doesn't play, what might they go to," Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees said Wednesday when asked how the defense would adjust to Bell's potential absence. "I can't sit here with a crystal ball and tell you what they're going to do, but what we have to do is be ready for whatever they decide to do. So, game-plan wise, we just have to adapt to whatever they decide to do."