The Baltimore Ravens are turning to a former rival to fill a depth chart decimated by injuries.
The team is signing former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell to its practice squad with a plan to add him to the 53-man roster when he's ready, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Having lost RBs J.K. Dobbins and Justice Hall to season-ending injuries, the Ravens are signing veteran RB Le’Veon Bell to their practice squad, per source. He soon is likely to be added to the 53-man roster when ready.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 7, 2021
The Ravens probably won't stop at Bell to address their running back needs, as USA Today's Josina Anderson reports the team is also likely to add former New York Jets and Carolina Panthers running back Trenton Cannon, mostly as a special teams contributor. Anderson also reports Latavius Murray, released Tuesday by the New Orleans Saints, is willing to speak with the team.
Before the Bell signing, Baltimore was down to just two running backs on its entire active roster after starter J.K. Dobbins tore his ACL in last week's preseason game and back-up Justice Hill tore his Achilles in practice this week.
The Ravens also worked out former Atlanta Falcons Pro Bowler Devonta Freeman and former Philadelphia Eagles back-up Elijah Holyfield, but apparently landed on Bell as the best answer for the team's woes.
What can Le'Veon Bell bring to Ravens backfield?
Bell enters the Ravens as the most famous running back in the organization, but that won't make him the starter.
Gus Edwards, who started at running back as a rookie and stayed productive while splitting time with Mark Ingram over the last two seasons, is the clear starter for the Ravens now. He has posted at least 700 rushing yards and 5.0 yards per rush in all three seasons of his NFL career and clearly knows how to run next to Lamar Jackson.
The only other running back in the Ravens organization is Ty'Son Williams, who went undrafted in the 2020 NFL draft but impressed in this year's preseason.
The biggest reason to be optimistic the 29-year-old Bell can carve out a role with the Ravens is his experience catching passes, as Edwards has only 18 receptions in his entire career and Williams caught only seven passes in his senior year at BYU. Contrast that to Bell, who was posting more than 600 receiving yards a season when he was an All-Pro with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
It's obviously been a while since those days in Pittsburgh for Bell, though. He left the team in 2019 after an extended contract holdout and signed a four-year deal with the New York Jets, which ended up being a disaster for all involved. Bell landed with the Kansas City Chiefs after the Jets released him, but saw only two carries in the entire 2020-21 postseason.
Now, the opportunity is clearly there for Bell to meaningfully contribute to a contender again. We'll see if he can do anything with it.