James Conner is Outperforming Le'Veon Bell

James Conner is Outperforming Le'Veon Bell

NFL

James Conner is Outperforming Le'Veon Bell

The Le'Veon Bell saga has dragged on for a half-season. The three-time Pro Bowl running back didn’t sign his franchise tender before the trade deadline, so the Pittsburgh Steelers can’t move him. The standoff continues and it feels like Bell is further away from returning than at any point of this whole episode.

Meanwhile, the Steelers have survived early-season bumps and sit atop the  AFC North at 4-2-1. Bell’s replacement, James Conner, has been solid in fill-in duty. Actually, better than solid. And better, statistically, than Bell was in 2017.

Per Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk:

That hardly seems possible, but it’s true. Bell put up his numbers by leading the AFC in both rushes (321) and touches (406) in 15 games. Conner is on pace to carry the ball 338 times and receive 421 touches. So it’s not as though the Steelers have had to work around not having a workhorse. Scoring has also gone up. Pittsburgh is averaging 29.1 points/game in 2018 after putting up 25.4 last year.

No one seems to know if and when Bell will show up. No one can confidently say what type of shape he’ll be in when he returns. Maybe at this point it doesn’t really matter. It sounds crazy, but maybe the Steelers are just fine — or possibly better — without arguably the best running back in the league. At least on paper.

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