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Vikings Anticipate Steelers RB Bell's Patience to be Factor on Runs

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — A classic ketchup commercial to the tune of "Anticipation" comes to mind this week with the Vikings set to visit the Steelers at Heinz Field.

So does the word "patience" when Minnesota's defenders describe one of Pittsburgh running back Le'Veon Bell's key attributes.

Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards said Bell excels in waiting for the Steelers offensive line to set up blocks and move defenders then accelerating the opposite direction.

"He fits what they do with their offensive line to a 'T'," Edwards said. "He's got great vison, and he's got great patience when he hits the hole to wait until they are able to come off and get to the second level, and he's able to make a lot of people miss, whether it's in line, outside on the perimeter.

"He's very explosive when he gets his hands on the ball," Edwards added. "We'll have our work cut out for us in the running game, trying to defend him this weekend."

The former 48th overall pick of the 2013 NFL Draft has averaged 127 yards from scrimmage per game, which is the most in the NFL in that span.

In his first four seasons, Bell totaled 4,045 rushing yards and 26 rushing touchdowns, along with 2,005 receiving yards and five touchdown receptions.

"He has great patience behind his offensive line and is confident with what he does, puts his foot in the ground, gets vertical," Eric Kendricks said. "There's not much he can't do, but I'm excited to play against him. I want to play against the best. We all do, and he's one of the best."

Asked about Bell's patience, rookie linebacker and fellow Ohio native Ben Gedeon said, "It's impressive."

"He's able to kind of hold in his running lane and then make a cut, so it's going to challenge us to be disciplined," added Gedeon, who was credited by Vikings coaches with a pair of tackles against the Saints in his first NFL start.

Minnesota limited New Orleans to 60 rushing yards on 21 attempts last week.

Pittsburgh's ground attack was similarly contained by Cleveland. The Browns allowed 57 yards on 25 carries, bottling up Bell and others for 32 yards on 10 carries and 15 yards on three receptions.

"Cleveland did a good job, as far as attacking them, [gave them] a lot of different looks," Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said. "He's probably trying to get his timing down a little bit." 

Bell did not play in the 2017 preseason, so last week marked his first game action since Week 16 of the 2016 season when he rushed for 122 yards and a score against Baltimore. The total gave him 835 yards and six rushing touchdowns in the final six games last year.

Pittsburgh was flagged 13 times for a total of 143 yards in Cleveland. The Steelers were called for six infractions on offense (four holding calls, a delay of game and an illegal peelback block).

"We were highly penalized, and when you're highly penalized, you end up behind the chains, you get in predictable circumstances, you end up punting; it limits your snaps," Tomlin said. "I really think we were our own worst enemy from a penalty standpoint."

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