OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Wink Martindale isn’t breathing a sigh of relief from the fact that Pro Bowl running back Le’Veon Bell has yet to report to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“There are a lot of stats [since 2015] that the Steelers are actually better without him,” Martindale said Thursday. “That might be why he’s riding a jet-ski down in Miami right now.”
Bell, a first-team All-Pro last season, continues to protest the franchise tag, remaining absent despite the trade deadline passing on Tuesday.
James Conner, Bell’s replacement, has rushed for 367 yards and six touchdowns over the past three weeks. He was named the AFC offensive player of the month. Perhaps that’s why Martindale isn’t thinking too much about whether Bell will return this week to play the Ravens. “What if Terry Bradshaw wants to come back and Lynn Swann? Oh, [s—],” Martindale said.
In the Ravens’ previous meeting with the Steelers, Baltimore held Pittsburgh to 19 yards rushing. That was the Steelers’ fewest rushing yards at home since 1952, when Pittsburgh played at Forbes Field.
Since 2015, Bell has produced the most yards from scrimmage (668) and total touchdowns (8) against the Ravens than any other player.
So, do the Ravens really think Bell could be on the field Sunday?
“In this day and age, in this world, I wouldn’t be surprised at anything,” Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “He could report Saturday, show up to the hotel, and now we have a whole different slew of problems.”