Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Thursday that he expects rookie running back Le'Veon Bell to get snaps with the first-team offense in Pittsburgh's preseason opener Saturday against the New York Giants.
"We are going to play the 1s 10-12 snaps. Don't be surprised if you see Le'Veon getting some snaps with those guys," Tomlin said, according to the team's website. "I think he has earned that. I think how he is running the ball speaks for itself."
Tomlin said Bell likely will get some snaps after the first-team offense departs as well.
"He, like a lot of guys, we need to get a lot of exposure to," Tomlin said.
The 21-year-old Bell, who was selected 48th overall in April's draft, has been competing with veterans Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman for the right to replace the departed Rashard Mendenhall as the Steelers' starting running back.
Tomlin didn't say which other running backs would receive first-team snaps Saturday, but he said he is pleased with how Dwyer and Redman have responded to the competition.
"They are competing, and it's bringing out the best in them," Tomlin said.
Dwyer and Redman combined for 1,033 yards while splitting carries with Mendenhall in 2012 but couldn't stay healthy, leaving their ability to become a true feature back in question. Bell, meanwhile, led the nation with 383 carries last fall at Michigan State and caught 32 passes, potentially giving the Steelers a running back who can play all three downs.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.