Ravens sign former Steelers standout Le'Veon Bell for help at running back

The Associated Press
Le'Veon Bell is seen here during his days with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

OWINGS MILLS, Md. – Less than six months shy of his 30th birthday, Le’Veon Bell is trying again to rejuvenate his career with a new team.

Now it’s the Baltimore Ravens – reeling a bit after J.K. Dobbins’ season-ending injury – who have acquired Bell.

Baltimore signed Bell to the practice squad, adding another backfield option in the aftermath of Dobbins’ knee injury. Bell was cut early last season by the New York Jets, then rushed for 328 yards in 11 games with Kansas City. He did not play in the Super Bowl for the Chiefs.

Bell rushed for more than 1,000 yards three times in five seasons for Pittsburgh. He then sat out the whole 2018 season in a contract dispute. He signed with the Jets and rushed for 789 yards in 2019.

On Wednesday, Bell was on the practice field for the Ravens wearing No. 17. Shortly before the start of practice – and before the team announced the move – offensive lineman Bradley Bozeman was asked about bringing Bell in.

“Excited about the opportunity. We’ll see what happens,” Bozeman said. “We’re going to block for whoever’s back there. We’re going to try to make the biggest holes, the biggest opportunities, the biggest gains in our offense that we possibly can, regardless of who’s back there running the ball.”

The Ravens lost Dobbins in their final preseason game. That left Gus Edwards as their top remaining running back, although quarterback Lamar Jackson is a big rushing threat as well. Edwards ran for 723 yards and six touchdowns last season.

Now running back Justice Hill is also on injured reserve, and the Ravens signed running back Trenton Cannon. They also released safety Jordan Richards and signed defensive tackle Reginald McKenzie to the practice squad.

Cannon had 48 carries in three seasons with the Jets and Carolina Panthers.

The Ravens open the season Monday night at Las Vegas. It’s not clear how quickly Bell might be ready to join the active roster. Coach John Harbaugh wasn’t available to reporters Wednesday.

Bell was a two-time All-Pro with the Steelers, but he’s now with his third team in the past 12 months. The former Michigan State star didn’t rush for more than 62 yards in a game with the Chiefs last year. He had only two carries the whole postseason for Kansas City.

Bell hasn’t surpassed 100 yards in a game since Dec. 17, 2017.

Long term: Baltimore’s other big move this week was giving tight end Mark Andrews a $56 million, four-year extension through 2025.

“This is all surreal for me, to be able to play for the Baltimore Ravens. I can’t ask for anything more,” Andrews said. “This is a place that I’ve said that I want to make home, and it is my home.”

Andrews said there wasn’t necessarily any urgency to finish the new deal before the start of the season.

“I was going to be fine either way,” he said. “I just wanted my agent and the front office to do all the stuff, and they did a great job of kind of handling that and making sure I was stress free.”

Bozeman, who like Andrews was drafted by Baltimore in 2018, didn’t have much to say about his own contract hopes, but he’s happy for Andrews.

“I’m ecstatic for Mark,” Bozeman said. “He’s very underrated in my opinion, and he’s gotten what he deserves.”