Ben Roethlisberger called out rookie running back Le’Veon Bell in the media this week – this after Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Bell would play this Sunday against Minnesota.
Bell missed the final two preseason games and the first three games of the regular season with a torn ligament in his right foot.
Roethlisberger, however, doesn’t seem too excited about Bell’s return, telling KDKA-FM in Pittsburgh, “Honestly, I have no idea with him. You can’t get a read on him. One day, he’s practicing. One day, he’s not. One day, he’s going hard. The next day, he’s not.”
Is this Roethlisberger way of motivating the rookie?
“Ben’s a leader, and Ben’s one of the better players in our league,” NFL Network analyst Willie McGinest said on The Damon Amendolara Show. “So if Ben wants to motivate him to get him going, I think it’s easier for him to walk over to his locker and have a one-on-one with him. I think Le’Veon would respect that. I think he has respect for Ben, and it’s easy enough for him to just walk down to his locker and have a one-on-one, man-to-man (conversation) and tell him what he expects from him, what he needs from him inside the facility, inside the organization.”
Roethlisberger also said he wishes Bell were more like Heath Miller so that “you knew he was busting his butt every day.” He then added, “Le’Veon is a rookie. I don’t know him quite well enough yet. But if he can come back and help us, we’ll take him.”
That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement of the franchise’s second-round pick.
“It’s more than one running back when you look at the Pittsburgh Steelers (and their problems),” McGinest said. “He also could have a talk with that offensive line in protecting him and giving him more time to throw the ball around. I think they’re tying to dig themselves out of the hole. There are some things they can do better. But it’s just tough right now.”
The Steelers (0-3) rank 28th in the league in total offense and 31st in rushing offense. They’ve lost eight of their last 10 games, including six of seven, dating back to last season.
“A lot of teams go through these slumps; they have hard times,” McGinest said. “The good teams, the well-coached teams, the veteran teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers are – they find a way. They come together and they dig themselves out of those holes. But as far as trying to send a message through the media or trying to send a message to another player on your team, it’s always been the best (in my opinion) to just go straight to that player and tell them what you expect and what you need and tell them one-on-one rather than going through the media to do it.”