Le’Veon Bell has been having a nightmare of a preseason, so Jonathan Dwyer, Isaac Redman and the rest of the Pittsburgh Steelers' running backs must be ready to step up and fill the void if he is unable to go this season.
Bell, a second-round pick out of Michigan State, ended up missing the team’s first exhibition game with a sore left knee, then re-injured that same knee during a non-contact drill in a practice shortly after, as announced on the team's website.
As if that wasn’t concerning enough, the 6’1”, 244-pound bruiser suffered a mid-foot sprain after just four carries on Monday Night Football against the Washington Redskins.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter believes the injury could be a Lisfranc fracture, a debilitating issue that could easily end Bell’s rookie season prematurely:
While it would be premature to speculate on the severity of Bell’s injury before he undergoes an MRI on Tuesday, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin would be wise to start preparing Dwyer and Redman to split the majority of the carries in a timeshare for the 2013 season.
With Bell on the sidelines, Dwyer stepped up and delivered a solid performance on Monday, proving he can shoulder the load during the upcoming campaign if need be. He rushed 14 times for 68 yards, including an impressive 23-yard scamper.
Dwyer also proved his worth in the receiving game, catching two passes for 12 yards.
Redman was kept off the field, as the four-year veteran was dealing with a stinger suffered in practice. It was likely a precautionary measure, and it is unlikely that the issue will impact his ability to perform when the Steelers open the season against the Tennessee Titans on Sept. 8.
Both backs have a proven history of production when their number is called, with Dwyer rushing 156 times for 623 yards and two touchdowns last year. Redman received 110 carries in each of the last two seasons and gained 889 yards while scoring five times in that span.
Fantasy owners who drafted Bell before the injury bug started destroying his preseason should immediately hit the waiver wire to grab Dwyer, as his performance against Washington should have him in line to be the Week 1 starter.
Those in deeper leagues should take a gamble on Redman, as the Bowie State product was projected to split time with Bell as a co-starter less than a week ago.
As always, monitor Bleacher Report and other fantasy outlets for the latest news and hope that Bell’s MRI reveals nothing serious that will hinder his ability to play football in 2013.