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Rookie RB Le'Veon Bell joins crowded race for starting spot in Steelers' backfield

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Pittsburgh Steelers second round draft pick running back Le'Veon Bell takes part in a drill during NFL football practice, Wednesday, May 22, 2013, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)The Associated Press

Pittsburgh Steelers rookie running back Le'Veon Bell is eager to make an impact in the crowded race for the starting job.

The Steelers took Bell in the second round of last month's draft hoping he can help the team replace Rashard Mendenhall, who left as a free agent for Arizona in the offseason.

Bell ran for 1,793 yards and 12 touchdowns at Michigan State in 2012 and was an effective receiver out of the backfield. The Steelers hope Bell's versatility will take some of the pressure off quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Pittsburgh struggled finding consistent production out of the running game last fall as Mendenhall, Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman all had trouble staying healthy.

Dwyer and Redman are back, though each understands this may be their last shot at finding a permanent home in Pittsburgh.