That’s probably a bit of an overstatement.
The Pittsburgh Steelers will undoubtedly feel the loss of running back Le’Veon Bell, who is expected serve a suspension that will cause him to miss the first four games of the season.
Still, as far as former Steelers defensive lineman Chris Hoke is concerned, DeAngelo Williams will be a solid replacement. That’s what Williams was last season, and Hoke sees no reason to expect anything less this season.
It’s a tall order, yes, but he’s up to it.
“The pressure’s there, but, listen, as professional athletes, you know when you play on a field, there’s always pressure,” Hoke, who provides Steeler analysis for a Pittsburgh television station, told Brad Hopkins and Solomon Wilcots on Movin’ The Chains Thursday. “He knows what it’s like to be a Steeler now. He’s been there for a year. He played very, very well last year when Le’Veon Bell was out. He stepped in and carried the ball well and was leading the NFL or tops in the NFL in touchdowns scored. He did a heck of a job. I’m not expecting anything different this year going into the season, him stepping in there with Le’Veon Bell going to be out.”
Still, it would be wrong to say that Williams or many other backs would make anyone forget about Bell.
“Not having Le’Veon Bell in there is a blow,” Hoke said. “And this guy is not only one of the best running backs in the NFL, but I really feel, if you line him up on the outside, he’d be one of the best receivers in the NFL. This guy’s the total package, running and catching, so that’s going to be a huge blow for the Steelers.
“I know they really, really like Le’Veon Bell, and who wouldn’t? He’s a heck of a football player. And you have a guy like him who now has shown kind of a pattern of getting in trouble. The first time, OK, blow it off, just a young guy making a mistake. But this is the second time in three years that he’s gotten himself in trouble. Le’Veon Bell is a good young man. I’ve been around him, I like the young man. Lapse in judgement, I guess you would call it, but the Rooneys are going to have patience.
“You hope that, at some point, and you hope this is the last incident that he has, he can get back after four games and learn from his mistakes and grow up a little bit and be the player that the Steelers envision him to be. And that’s the hope the management, that’s their thinking moving forward, so let’s hope it falls in that fashion.”
Vic Carucci is a regular contributor to SiriusXM Sports. Catch all of the biggest names in the game on SiriusXM NFL Radio, Channel 88.
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