DENVER — The Baltimore Ravens will have a Pro Bowl backfield on Sunday, albeit the one from six years ago.
Running back Le’Veon Bell was promoted from the practice squad Saturday, a day before the Ravens’ game at the unbeaten Denver Broncos. Bell, 29, joins a crowded backfield that already has Latavius Murray and Devonta Freeman, all of whom reached the Pro Bowl at some point from 2014 to 2017.
This marks Bell’s first game since he played in the Kansas City Chiefs‘ AFC divisional playoff win over the Cleveland Browns last season. He spent the first four weeks of the regular season on the practice squad after being signed by Baltimore on Sept. 7.
The Ravens wanted Bell to have time to get into football shape because he wasn’t in a training camp this year. Now, Bell will be in the mix on a team that’s still trying to figure out the pecking order in its backfield.
“I think he has a really good enthusiasm,” Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman said this week. “He’s a smart guy, and it’ll be interesting to see how he can help us. So far, I’ve been very impressed with him. You can see why he’s been so successful, and hopefully he can add something to us at some point this year. But [I’ve seen] nothing but positives.”
After gaining over 1,000 yards rushing in three of his five seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bell hasn’t been the same playmaker since sitting out the 2018 season. Last season, he totaled 328 yards rushing and two touchdowns with the New York Jets and Chiefs.
The Ravens’ backfield has undergone a major change over the past month. Baltimore lost its top two running backs — J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards — to season-ending knee injuries just weeks before the start of the regular season.
In the first three games, the Ravens haven’t had a featured running back and have instead split the carries among Ty’Son Williams and Murray, who could take a bigger role against the Broncos. Baltimore leads the NFL in rushing, but its most productive runner has been quarterback Lamar Jackson.
“We’re just starting to get a feel for our [running] backs, really,” Roman said. “I think you’ll see that evolve as the year goes on, as well. I think they all kind of have been learning our system. But we like what we see with all of them, and we want to keep them fresh and ready to roll.”
Bell, Murray and Freeman all were considered among the top running backs in the NFL a handful of years ago, when they combined for six Pro Bowls. This collection of big-name backs hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“If you look back maybe even a few years ago, and to think if we were all in the same room, it would be a cap problem, right?” Murray said earlier this month.