Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (26) scores the winning touchdown during the fourth quarter of their game Sunday, December 22, 2013 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. The Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Green Bay Packers 38-31.

Ex-Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell to attempt NFL comeback

Former Pittsburgh Steelers star running back Le’Veon Bell is eyeing an NFL comeback.

Bell, who turns 32 later this month, has not played in the league since 2021.

The two-time All-Pro expressed his desire to return in a series of Snapchat videos Friday night, according to ESPN.

Bell said he will start training next month and that he will only play for “one team,” presumably Pittsburgh.

“And I’m gonna be honest with myself, I got to go out there and be like, I’m going to put my foot in the ground. Do I feel it? Am I hurting? Can I go out there and really play again?” he said. “And bro, I’m telling you all right now when I go out there and train in March and if I hit April and I make this decision to come back to play in the NFL again, mark my words down — I will be better than I ever was.

“And I will only come back for that one team. You all know who it is. I don’t have to say no team. You all know who it is.”

A comeback in Pittsburgh seems like a long shot for multiple reasons. The Steelers appear to be set at the position with Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren, and Bell didn’t exactly leave on good terms.

Bell sat out the entire 2018 season after refusing to sign his franchise tag. He returned to play for the New York Jets (2019-20), Kansas City Chiefs (2020), Baltimore Ravens (2021) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2021) but never achieved the level of success he enjoyed in Pittsburgh.

Bell earned three Pro Bowl selections in five seasons with the Steelers (2013-17), rushing for 5,336 yards and 35 touchdowns in 62 starts during that span. His career totals include 9,843 yards from scrimmage and 51 touchdowns in 96 games (81 starts).

–Field Level Media

Dec 24, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith shown on the field after the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Steelers hiring ex-Falcons coach Arthur Smith as OC

The Pittsburgh Steelers are expected to hire former Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith as their offensive coordinator, NFL Network reported Tuesday.

The Falcons fired Smith on Jan. 8 at the conclusion of his third straight 7-10 season.

Smith, 41, was the offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans in 2019 and 2020 before taking the Atlanta job.

He originally joined the Titans in 2011 as a quality control coach before working with the offensive line (2013) and the tight ends (2014-18).

The Steelers fired offensive coordinator Matt Canada on Nov. 21. Running backs coach Eddie Faulkner took over the day-to-day responsibilities of the OC position and quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan became the new play-caller.

Pittsburgh (10-7) rallied to make the playoffs with three straight wins to close the regular season. The campaign ended with a 31-17 road loss to the Buffalo Bills in the wild-card round.

The Steelers finished 28th in the NFL in scoring (17.9 points per game) and 25th in total offense (304.3 yards per game).

When Smith directed the Tennessee offense from 2019-20, it was a run-heavy attack behind All-Pro Derrick Henry. Henry led the NFL in rushing both seasons, including a 2,027-yard campaign in 2020.

Smith’s stable of running backs in Pittsburgh includes three-time 1,000-yard rusher Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren, who gained 1,154 yards from scrimmage in 2023.

–Field Level Media

Sep 18, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Teryl Austin on the sidelines against the Cleveland Browns at Acrisure Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Steelers retain DC Teryl Austin with 2-year deal

The Steelers are retaining defensive coordinator Teryl Austin with a two-year contract, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Thursday.

Austin, 58, originally joined head coach Mike Tomlin’s staff as a senior defensive assistant and secondary coach in 2019. He was promoted to defensive coordinator ahead of the 2022 season.

The bend-but-don’t-break Steelers (10-7) finished 21st in total defense but were sixth in scoring defense in 2023.

Austin was the defensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals (2018) and Detroit Lions (2014-17) and coached the secondary for the Baltimore Ravens from 2011-13, including a win in Super Bowl XLVII.

Austin needs to make at least one hire this offseason. NFL Network reported that assistant secondary coach Gerald Alexander agreed to become the safeties coach for the Las Vegas Raiders.

Following a playoff loss at Buffalo, the Steelers began searching for a new offensive coordinator to replace Matt Canada, who was fired in November. A list of reported candidates includes former Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury and Los Angeles Rams passing game coordinator Zac Robinson.

–Field Level Media

Jan 15, 2024; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin walks the field before the game against the Buffalo Bills in a 2024 AFC wild card game at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Mike Tomlin tells Steelers he’ll coach in 2024

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin told his players Tuesday he plans to lead the team in 2024, NFL Network reported.

At a team meeting the day after a 31-17 wild-card loss at the Buffalo Bills, Tomlin reportedly said the speculation about him stepping away after 17 seasons is unfounded.

Tomlin, 51, is entering the final season of his contract. He quickly stepped away from his postgame press conference Monday when asked about his contract situation.

With this month’s breakup of Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots, Tomlin is now the NFL’s longest-tenured coach. He has compiled a 173-100-2 record in the regular since taking over in 2007 and has never had a losing season.

Pittsburgh finished 10-7 in 2023 and made the playoffs for the 11th time under Tomlin, who guided the Steelers to a victory in Super Bowl XLIII after the 2008 season.

Tomlin is expected to address the media later this week, per NFL Network.

–Field Level Media

Jan 6, 2024; Baltimore, Maryland, USA;  Pittsburgh Steelers medical staff tend to inebacker T.J. Watt (left) as teammates take a knee during the third  quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Steelers’ T.J. Watt injures knee against Ravens, ruled out

Pittsburgh Steelers star edge rusher T.J. Watt suffered a knee injury late in the third quarter against the host Baltimore Ravens on Saturday.

Watt was attended to by trainers and left the game for the locker room under his own power. The Steelers soon ruled him out for the rest of the night.

Watt and a teammate inadvertently collided during a play, and Watt went to the ground. He was seen punching the turf in pain.

Earlier in the game, Watt recorded two sacks to reach a league-high 19 for the season. Watt is the second player in NFL history to have multiple 19-sack seasons — joining his older brother, J.J. Watt.

–Field Level Media

Dec 31, 2023; Baltimore, Maryland, USA;  Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) throws from the pocket during the first half against the Miami Dolphins at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Steelers fighting for playoff spot, face top-seeded Ravens

The Baltimore Ravens have locked up the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoff bracket, so why play their starters in Week 18?

Coach John Harbaugh and company are pondering that question ahead of Saturday’s season finale against the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers, whose own playoff dreams will be on the line.

The Ravens (13-3) thrashed the Miami Dolphins 56-19 last Sunday for their sixth straight victory, clinching the AFC North and a first-round playoff bye in the process. Lamar Jackson threw more touchdown passes (five) than incompletions (three) as public support grew for the quarterback to win his second NFL Most Valuable Player award.

Harbaugh said Monday that the Ravens had yet to decide how much — if at all — to play Jackson and other starters in the regular-season finale. The coach said they’d know by Wednesday and would not “keep it a secret.”

One possible factor at play is the age-old “rest vs. rust” debate. When the Ravens secured a first-round bye in 2019, they held out starters against Pittsburgh in the regular-season finale, but after a long gulf between games, they came out flat in a divisional-round loss to Tennessee.

In Harbaugh’s view, there’s no comparison worth drawing.

“I remember the experience and the choices we made (in 2019), but the decisions we made, we made for certain reasons,” Harbaugh said. “We thought they were the right decisions. What impacted how in terms of us not playing our best football that day, it’s really hard to say what the cause and effect was.”

The Steelers (9-7) surely would love to face Baltimore’s backups in Week 18. After staying in the AFC wild-card hunt with Sunday’s 30-23 win at Seattle, they have five paths to earn a playoff berth.

Three of the scenarios require Pittsburgh to win while getting help elsewhere in the conference. Pittsburgh could also get in with a tie, a Jacksonville loss and the Houston-Indianapolis game not ending in a tie. If the Steelers lose, but Jacksonville loses, Denver beats Las Vegas and Houston and Indianapolis don’t tie, Pittsburgh would sneak in, too.

The Steelers will continue to place their hopes on the shoulders of Mason Rudolph, their third starting quarterback this season. In two starts, both Pittsburgh wins, Rudolph has completed 68.6 percent of his passes for 564 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Kenny Pickett was inactive against Seattle while recovering from an ankle injury, but he is now healthy and will be Rudolph’s backup Sunday. Pickett refuted a rumor that he refused to dress against Seattle if the starting job wasn’t returned to him.

“One man’s misfortune is another man’s opportunity,” Pickett said Tuesday. “Mason played well when he got in there. I have a ton of respect for Mason and everything that he’s done and what our team has been doing. My job now that I’m back healthy is to be the backup.”

“There’s never been an awkward air. Those guys are dear friends and always professional,” Rudolph said of his fellow quarterbacks.

Pittsburgh star T.J. Watt is tied for the league lead with 17 sacks. He recorded two sacks and recovered a fumble when the host Steelers defeated the Ravens 17-10 in October.

Pittsburgh has won six of its past seven games against Baltimore dating back to the 2020 season — all seven decided by seven points or fewer.

Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (knee) and linebacker Elandon Roberts (pectoral) did not participate in Pittsburgh’s walkthrough Tuesday. Running back Najee Harris (knee) — who had season highs of 27 carries, 122 yards and two touchdowns against Seattle — was limited along with guard Isaac Seumalo (shoulder), defensive tackle Cameron Heyward (groin) and safety Trenton Thompson (neck). Pickett was a full participant.

Baltimore’s estimated injury report listed leading receiver Zay Flowers (calf), linebacker Malik Harrison (groin), cornerback Marlon Humphrey (calf) and cornerback Daryl Worley (shoulder/ankle) as non-participants. Star safety Kyle Hamilton (knee) and linebacker Patrick Queen (shoulder) were among seven Ravens listed as limited.

–Field Level Media

Dec 31, 2023; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Ravens  quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) warms up prior to the game against the Miami Dolphins at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Ravens: No decision yet on QB Lamar Jackson’s Week 18 status

Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Monday he hasn’t decided whether to sit quarterback Lamar Jackson, the heavy favorite for NFL MVP, against the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday.

The Steelers (9-7) are fighting for postseason berth going into the regular-season finale, while the Ravens (13-3) already have clinched the AFC North title and the top seed in the AFC playoffs, including a first-round bye.

“I have not made a decision on any personnel yet,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve got to kind of work through the injury part of it first, and that will take us probably 24 or 48 hours to get a real handle on that. Then we’ll make those decisions. We’re not going to keep it a secret. We’ll let you know what we’re going to do once we start practicing (Wednesday).”

If Jackson does rest, with backup Tyler Huntley the likely starter, he would not play until the Ravens’ next game Jan. 20 or 21. The Ravens faced this scenario at the end of the 2019 regular season and rested seven starters, including Jackson.

Harbaugh is aware of what happened after, as the Tennessee Titans knocked off the top-seeded Ravens in the divisional round, 28-12. Jackson threw the ball a lot, going 31 of 59 for 356 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

“It’s a different team, different circumstances, different everything except for the record was about the same and the bye,” Harbaugh said. “I remember the experience and the choices we made (in 2019), but the decisions we made, we made for certain reasons. We thought they were the right decisions.”

While Baltimore would like to rest some players recovering from injuries, Harbaugh said he doesn’t have the flexibility of a 90-man preseason roster during the regular season, which consists of a 53-man roster.

“It’s not like the preseason when you have a bunch of guys,” Harbaugh said. “The team we put out there is going to do everything we can to win the game, play our best football game of the season and win the game against a very tough opponent.”

Among the Ravens of note, cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey (calf) and Daryl Worley (stinger) and defensive tackle Michael Pierce (stinger) came out of Sunday’s win over the Dolphins. Safety Kyle Hamilton (knee), starting cornerback Brandon Stephens (ankle) and starting right guard Kevin Zeitler (knee/quad) were inactive.

Harbaugh said it’s too early to comment on any of these players’ availability for the postseason.

–Field Level Media