A new era that harkens back to an old one could begin at Heinz Field tonight when the Steelers play the New York Giants in their first exhibition game.

They hope to re-introduce their ground game with a new back flashing a familiar style behind a new blocking scheme. Rookie halfback Le'Veon Bell will cap an impressive first two weeks of training camp by if not starting then playing some with the first team offense and beyond.

It will be one of the most-anticipated debuts by a Steelers rookie running back since Franco Harris took his first bows 41 years ago. Coordinator Todd Haley who compared Bell to former NFL star Eddie George when the Steelers drafted him in the second round in April acknowledged that maybe his style looks more like that of Harris with a little less speed.

"He looks pretty good at this point" Haley said. "We've seen a lot of good signs."

Bell a tad heavier than Harris who was 6 feet 2 and weighed around 225-230 pounds eagerly anticipates the chance to show off his skills against someone other than his teammates and for a larger audience.

"I can't wait. It will be my first game dressed as a Pittsburgh Steeler my debut in the NFL. So I actually get to show everybody in the world what I'm capable of doing. And I'm so excited for it."

Mike Tomlin has given him every chance to do that in training camp. Despite listing him as his fifth running back on his first depth chart Tomlin has put Bell with the first-team offense on occasion and he has come through including in live tackling drills.

Unlike last season when no one was able to grab hold of the No. 1 job at halfback and keep it Haley hopes to go with a lead horse and have the others in complementary roles. After two weeks Bell looks like well their Bell Cow.

"If you have a big dog who holds up and can play that's the way you really like to do it" Haley said.
Tomlin has shown a propensity in his previous six years as head coach to use a different back on third downs but Bell would like to do that job too. He showed in his first two weeks at Saint Vincent College his receiving ability and he sticks his nose in the blitz pickups as well.

In the first blitz-pickup drills against pass-rushing linebackers in Latrobe his 6-2 frame tended to get bent backward although he still won his share of his chances.

He since has learned more of the art of leverage while blocking.

"That first day I probably won half" said Bell who exudes confidence on and off the field. "I think the next day I won all but one. Just technique things really helped me out. I'm a physical guy so I can really hold my own in a lot of situations but I have to make sure my technique is good and let my talent and physical strength take over."

Tonight he'll get a chance to run in the Steelers' new outside zone-blocking scheme the kind that has paid big dividends to other backs around the league.