Putting an artist in her place

first_imgIn 1962, a commercial illustrator from New York rocked the art world with his first one-man show. Some viewed the Los Angeles exhibit as little more than a clever novelty; others mocked its use of commercial subject matter as fine art. But for many, including one artist from a nearby Catholic order, Andy Warhol’s “Campbell’s Soup Cans” was a revelation.From the moment she visited the Ferus Gallery, where Warhol’s 32 paintings were on display, Sister Mary Corita (later Corita Kent) found it hard not to see the world through the lens of those captivating cans.“Coming home,” said Kent, “you saw everything like Warhol.”Kent’s own work, informed by social activism, would soon begin to reflect that vision. “She was exposed to this avant-garde art practice right at the very beginning,” said Susan Dackerman, the former Carl A. Weyerhaeuser Curator of Prints at the Harvard Art Museums and current consultative curator of prints. “And she is totally open to it.”Susan Dackerman, who curated the Harvard Art Museums’ new exhibit “Corita Kent and the Language of Pop,” examines the artist’s 1967 print “handle with care.” Photos by Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff PhotographerDackerman is the curator of “Corita Kent and the Language of Pop Art,” an exhibit opening this week at the Harvard Art Museums that positions Kent and her work as central to an art movement famous for celebrating kitsch and consumer culture. For years Kent has been looked on as something of a footnote in pop discussions, overshadowed by male artists such as Warhol, Jim Dine, and Roy Lichtenstein. But the Harvard show places Kent in the middle of the conversation, calling attention to her influences, her contributions, and her unique perspective.“What we wanted to do was actually look closely at her work, and look at it in a broader cultural, art-historical context,” said Dackerman, “and put it into the art-historical discourse.”The exhibit features a selection of books and films about the artist, and alongside 60 Kent prints includes for comparison 60 works by her contemporaries, among them a print by Jasper Johns. In his 1962-63 work “Red, Yellow, Blue” Johns plays with the definition of color, spelling out the work’s title in black and white. His artistic choice “strips the words of their meaning,” said Dackerman. Similarly, Kent divested words of their original intent in her prints, “but what she does then is reinvest them with other meaning.”Kent’s “handle with care,” an eye-catching green and orange print, incorporates a popular Chevrolet slogan that referred to one of the company’s many car dealers. But for the Catholic nun, the words “see the man who can save you the most,” clearly carried a deeper significance.In Kent’s hands, Dackerman said, the salesman offers you “a Chevy, and salvation.”For Kent, any text was fair game. Lines from the Bible, poems, and even Beatles songs made their way into her prints. One of her richest sources of inspiration was the world of advertising, said Dackerman, who spent years researching the show and writing its catalog with Jennifer Roberts, the Elizabeth Cary Agassiz Professor of the Humanities, and several Harvard grad students. “She also used the ads in Playboy. She was a nun, but she was out there in the world.”That meant Kent was tuned in to the artistic currents as well as the social and religious movements of the time. The Harvard show explores how the reforms of Vatican II, the Catholic Church’s effort to catch up with the times, affected Kent’s output. (Among the many reforms, priests saying Mass could both face the congregation and speak in a language other than Latin.)“Characteristics of pop art and the aspirations of Vatican II overlap; they merge simultaneously,” said Dackerman. “Pop art is also looking for a broader audience. Pop art also turns to vernacular subject matter.”Pop artist Ed Ruscha’s 1968 depiction of the famous Hollywood sign, titled “Hollywood,” helped transform the sign itself into an iconic pop symbol, said Susan Dackerman. Similarly, Corita Kent’s design for the Boston Gas Co. tank on I-93 gave Boston its own pop landmark.Kent saw in both movements an important artistic overlap. Her screen print “the juiciest tomato of all,” borrows from Warhol’s tomato soup cans, and from a letter by a professor who described the Virgin Mary in modern terms that included the repurposed Del Monte slogan “the juiciest tomato of all.” Her resulting work evokes the daily and the divine.“She’s just a really smart artist,” said Dackerman.Born Frances Elizabeth in 1918 in Fort Dodge, Iowa, Kent grew up in Los Angeles and joined the Order of the Immaculate Heart of Mary as a teen, where she took the name Sister Mary Corita. She graduated from Immaculate Heart College in 1941 and began teaching art at the school in 1947. From the beginning, her classroom and studio were hubs of creativity, where students and fellow nuns assisted her with her work. “It’s not really that different from Warhol’s factory,” said Dackerman, “except everyone’s dressed a little different.”Kent’s reputation for innovation attracted some of the era’s brightest stars.“Buckminster Fuller, John Cage, they were all there and they gave lectures and they talked to the students,” said Dackerman. Kent even made the cover of Newsweek in 1967 as an example of the modern nun. But history, said Dackerman, has failed to “put her at the center of anything.” The curator hopes the new show moves the artist “back into that art-historical conversation.”That effort began in earnest several years ago when the museum acquired approximately 70 works by Kent. It was a move aimed at making Harvard a focal research site for scholars interested in the artist, said Dackerman, by adding Kent’s work to Kent material already at Harvard. Between 1990 and 1991 the artist’s estate donated her official papers to the Schlesinger Library, which is currently hosting an exhibit of material from its collection. “Corita Kent: Footnotes and Headlines” is on view at the Schlesinger through Sept. 18.Perhaps Kent’s most enduring images are those at the extremes — her smallest and biggest. In 1985 she created her “Love” postage stamp, bright horizontal strokes of color that hover about a purple “love,” and resemble Robert Indiana’s love stamp from 1973. Her largest piece is represented in the Harvard show by a wall-sized photomural and a 7-inch high model. Many have glimpsed the real thing, but only at high speeds — the giant rainbow swash painted on the gas tank along Interstate 93 in Boston. (Kent left the order in the late 1960s and moved to Boston, where she lived and worked until her death in 1986.)Corita Kent liked to strip words of their initial intent, then “reinvest them with other meaning,” said Susan Dackerman. In Kent’s “handle with care,” the artist uses the 1960s Chevrolet slogan “see the man who can save you the most” to evoke both a deal on a car, and salvation.For Dackerman, the gas tank represents the culmination of Kent’s work in the pop movement, and calls to mind Ed Ruscha’s famous depiction of the Hollywood sign. By sprucing up the broken letters, relocating them to a ridge, and highlighting them against a brilliant orange-red sunset, Ruscha’s print infused the sign with new life and meaning. His revitalized image “becomes this iconic example of pop art,” said Dackerman, “and then, in the wake of that, the Hollywood sign itself becomes this iconic pop symbol and this city landmark.”Kent, who spent much of her life living not far from the sign, couldn’t have missed this transformation.“Corita grows up essentially in the shadow of this sign and she sees this transformation take place,” Dackerman said. “So that in 1970, when the Boston Gas Company says ‘Do you want to paint this tank?’ I think what she does is actually make a pop art landmark for Boston.”“Corita Kent and the Language of Pop” opens Sept. 3 and runs through Jan. 3 at the Harvard Art Museums.Corita Kent and the Language of Pop Art Video by Harvard Art Museums.last_img read more

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The data security act of 2015: How credit unions benefit

first_imgThe U.S. House Financial Services Committee recently passed the Data Security Act of 2015. The bill has some positive implications to credit unions and financial institutions, but does present some challenges for state privacy laws and small businesses. The act would establish consistent standards nationwide for data security requirements and data breach notification requirements.Without the act, if a merchant is negligent to upgrade security software to protect cards on file, or a small merchant doesn’t implement necessary security to protect credit and debit card information collected over the internet, in-store, or over the phone, the card issuer is responsible for making the cardholder whole in the case of breach of the cardholder’s data. That is to say, the merchant, the one handling the card data, is not liable for the fraud incurred even if it is under their control. The roll-out of EMV does not address breaches of the millions of card data being stored by merchants. Also when there is a breach, there is no rule that says when or if the breach should be announced, and to whom.Great for Credit Unions. Challenging for Small Businesses.The Data Security Act is written to level the playing field by creating a nationwide standard to address these holes. This is great for credit unions as it potentially decreases the cost of fraud by forcing merchants to meet federal standards while not adding any additional burdens to credit unions. However, it may not be great for small business owners, who may not be aware of, or be able to meet compliance standards. continue reading » 4SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

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Does your mobile app need a facelift?

first_img 6SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Steve Maloney Steve Maloney is president/CEO of Sync1 Systems, has more than 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field in addressing issues specific to the financial services industry.  Prior … Web: https://www.sync1systems.com/solutions Details Make Your Mobile Banking App Convenient . . . And, Customers Will Spread the WordWhen you set up your lending suite of services, if you’re finding that there are features you’re missing, consider upgrading your loan origination software. Loan origination system software like Sync 1 provides credit unions with smartphone integration to increase membership and lending (auto loans). Members can access the best rates in real-time and make informed loan decisions. Here’s how they helped Neighbors Federal Credit Union in Baton Rouge.Ultimately, as consumers are accustomed to shopping instantly and conveniently from their smartphones, they want to bank the same way. Hence, your mobile app shouldn’t lag behind. Optimize your app with clean images, big CTA buttons, loan calculators and account features. With digital mobile app solutions that include automation, AI, and other tech advances, banking is becoming not just smarter but more convenient. As Logix’s CIO Eduard Chuang pointed out, “We truly aim to provide the best possible banking experience that our members can have.” And, when members are happy, they’ll access more features confidently and will share their experiences with others. And, that’s a win-win for everyone. Well, Domo arigato Mr. Roboto! Picture this. You’re standing in what looks like an endless line at your credit union during your lunch break. It’s dusty and dark. The posters are outdated. Chicago’s “If You Leave Me Now” is playing in the background. You can see that only one teller is working and she’s in no hurry. It’s been almost 45-minutes and you’ve barely moved. You step out of line to fill out your deposit slip with the pen chained to the desk. Then, as you get back in line, you hear, “Next”, but you head for the exit instead. As you’re walking out, you hear the faint sound of Chicago playing in the distance… “Baby, please don’t go. You’ll take away the biggest part of me”. But, you know it’s time.A problem some credit unions have is outdated services and mobile apps that are lacking key features and are just “blah”. They don’t realize small, simple changes can bring their services up-to-date and dramatically increase ROI. So, let’s take a look.Logix – Smarter Banking: It’s Convenient Banking that’s Connecting with MembersIf you haven’t heard about Logix Federal Credit Union, founded in 1937, they’re located in California and transforming the digital member experience. From engaging online and brick-and-mortar customers to making banking convenient, friendly and positive experiences, here are a few takeaways if you’re interested in digital transformation for your mobile apps.Background InformationWith 400+ positive Yelp reviews, Logix is ranked 4.5 stars. Customers LOVE them and are VERY receptive to their brand.A few key points about Logix:As of March 20, 2020, Logix FCU had $6.29 billion in assets, $1.76 billion in loans and a 15.98 net worth ratioIncreased it’s member base by 89% and Forbes Magazine named them Number One Credit Union in CaliforniaThe credit union has just over 207,000 members, 740 full-time staff and 4 part-time staff.Logix is open online 24-hours and accessible from smartphones, tablets and computers.What distinguishes Logix from other credit unions are the new technologies they implemented to reach younger audiences (millennials, online members). The Logix app includes a clean, easy-to-navigate, user-friendly interface and it integrates across mobile. Logix has a strong presence online and on social media.So, what is it that Logix is doing that you can benefit from? Let’s take a look.Data Analytics, Marketing and Promotions“We already have a really great member experience, especially in our branches, and so we’re driven by wanting to make our members feel welcomed, significant, and engaged. What we’re trying to do is take that feeling and replicate it across other channels: on our website, within online banking, and throughout our mobile app.” Anna Fonseca, CEO, LogixData Analytics To stay on top of digital banking changes, Logix implemented a new business intelligence and data analytics department. This department is crucial to gathering key insights and useful data on members and staff. The data is shared with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning products that can provide special reporting on specific member behaviors. Hence, all that new technology can help Logix harness data they need to improve user experiences.  But, it doesn’t stop there.Marketing and PromotionsLogix is personable and convenient. Logix uses a tiny robot named Robix. He’s displayed on various landing pages and might be driving a car to promote auto loans or holding up a heart around Valentine’s Day. Hence, ads make members smile while highlighting added savings and marketing is attractive. Logix clearly identifies with members.Promotions, marketing and other convenient features include:Promotions that identify with families and communities like Name the Logix Robot and Decorate your Halloween pumpkin like the Logix robotOffers customers can’t refuse (to increase conversions) like Open a new account and receive $150, $50 for Auto Loan Referrals and Get up to $2,000No surcharge fees at their 30,000 ATMs and overdraft protection with courtesy payFinancial education to learn about money management skillsRisk-based, auto, participation and indirect loansConvenient loan and savings calculators, e-statements, remote deposit captures and mobile paymentsLanding Pages, Images, CTAs and ColorsLogix has a clean interface on their landing pages. The background isn’t harsh and the soft orange color is inviting. They also limit the amount of text with each ad. Logix uses the appropriate font sizes and large call-to-action (CTA) buttons to help members navigate pages.Images are consistent with their brand and usually only include the Logix robot and bold colors that display ads. Some pages include reviews and feedback with large images to help members feel confident when accessing the site.For credit unions that want to take a similar approach, Neil Patel suggests:Use customer reviews to show transparency…About 92% of consumers read reviews before making a purchase. Neil says to put testimonials everywhere, not just on a dedicated page that members may have trouble accessing.Support customers – Even in hard times…The COVID-19 update (above) lets members know the credit union is there to assist them. And, they can click on a simple link to find support and financial services (without having to come to a branch and stand in line).Limit information on the screen display area…Instead of lengthy applications, limit what’s shown. Remember, members are busy and they’re banking from their phones. A few CTA buttons can make it easier for them to get the information they need.Other ways to clean up your app include removing carousel banner ads. Clark’s shoe company did this after their A/B test and increased conversions by 17.5% while bounce rates fell 16%.Include high-quality images…As more people are online, they can choose where to shop and bank. Make your app visually appealing to them. Website design drives about 94% of traffic. Clean images can also reduce bounce rates – so always check your analytics.Next, don’t be afraid to pay more for staged images instead of generic stock images that people have seen before. Increasing your authenticity can improve your brand. Take a look at Logix’s image below for Advice and Planning. Again, the images are large and clear while the text is minimal.Limit landing page lengths (enough scrolling already!)…Creating a longer landing page doesn’t always mean consumers will stay on the page. It might confuse them if all you’re asking for is an email address, for example. Keep the content simple for better results.To test this, monitor your email signup page, a CTR to your blog page and a visits services page. Consider a company like Marketo for marketing automation. They provide short-form templates to reduce unnecessary scrolling.Banking and Loan Products, Education Center and Online SupportAnother area where Logix makes banking convenient is with its education center, shown above as Advice and Planning. And, for credit unions this is important.Your education center is a self-help area where members and applicants can have their questions answered. If you don’t have an education center or knowledge base, consider setting one up for your app. It might include YouTube videos, help topics, common questions, top articles, blog posts and tutorials about products and services.Check out Hubspot’s resource center and knowledge base options to personalize your pages and make them engaging.A few additional tips:Make it easy for customers/members to find solutions to routinely asked questions.Include a search bar option for questions not immediately viewable.Include chat and text options that can work with machine learning and AI. This should be available 24-hours a day. You can automate this feature through your software and it will free up humans so they can help members who come into your brick-and-mortar locations.Keep your content fresh, relevant and minimal.Monitor searches with Google Analytics. You’ll know the topics you’re missing and can make the necessary changes.Optimize your loan origination app across mobile devices. Instead of taking a website and trying to convert it into a mobile app, start a new app that’s optimized for mobile devices and social media.last_img read more

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Khaldoon promises quality signings

first_img City mounted an underwhelming defence of the Barclays Premier League title they won in 2014, capitulating in the second half of the campaign and failing to challenge champions Chelsea. They also flopped in both domestic cup competitions while their Champions League challenge was ended at the last-16 stage for a second successive season by Barcelona. Manuel Pellegrini’s men did recover to secure the runners-up spot in the Premier League – and Khaldoon recognises that relative success in the club’s history – but ambitious owner Sheikh Mansour is aiming much higher. Pellegrini’s position as manager appears to be safe but a significant injection of fresh faces to the squad is planned. Speaking in an interview with City TV to be published on Thursday, Khaldoon said: “We have a great nucleus here and we want to preserve this nucleus – but at the same time we want to go the next level. “We want a squad that is able and has the capability and quality to win the Premier League, compete and win the Champions League, compete and be able to go all the way in two cup competitions in England. “I think you will see some changes. You will see some players who have served us well and maybe it is time for them to move to their next challenge, and you will see us in the market bringing high-quality individuals that fit within what we are aspiring to coming in this summer. “I can assure you the squad will be stronger, the team will be more competitive. I am both confident and excited about what is coming next year. “I want the disappointment of last year behind me, behind us all. We have all turned the page. The energy right now is positive, the energy towards getting back on track, winning that Premier League and getting a better performance in the Champions League. This is absolutely what is driving all of us right now.” City have been heavily linked with Wolfsburg midfielder Kevin de Bruyne while Juventus star Paul Pogba and Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling are other reported targets. Manchester City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak has promised “high-quality” signings this summer after admitting the team failed to match expectations last season. But Khaldoon insists there will be no return to the heavy spending that characterised the early years of the sheikh’s ownership following his 2008 takeover. He said: “We have gone from a club that was making promises of a future from a very low standpoint and therefore struggling to attract the quality of the players we would have aspired to. We were at a point having to pay big premiums in order to attract the type of players we wanted to attract. “Today I think we are in a different position. We are a club players want to come and play for. We are an institution today. “We can compete head to head with all the top clubs and players look at the track record of Manchester City over the last couple of years, look at the City Football Academy, the facilities we have, the infrastructure we have, look at the people we have in terms of management and coaches, look at the environment we have created here in Manchester. We have a very attractive proposition.” City have won two Premier League titles, the FA Cup and the Capital One Cup since the takeover – the first trophy in 2011 ending a 35-year silverware drought – and overall Khaldoon is pleased with progress. He said: “If you had said to me seven years ago that in seven years we will end the season second in the Premier League, we will be exiting the Champions League in the round of 16, losing to Barcelona, and that we would be extremely disappointed by that – I think this is a testament to how far we have gone. “This is how far this organisation has gone. This is how far we have gone as a group as a whole, from fans to ownership to management to players. The expectations are now where they are and where they should be.” Press Associationlast_img read more

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Five things we learned in the Premier League

first_imgHere are five things we learned in the Premier League this weekend:Conte keeps axe-man Abramovich at bayGiven his record of ruthlessly disposing of managers perceived to be underachieving, the sight of demanding Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich at the club’s training ground this week might have given Blues boss Antonio Conte cause for concern. Amid rumours that Chelsea’s players were beginning to resent Conte’s intense training regime, a midweek thrashing at Roma in the Champions League added to the feeling the Italian was in danger of becoming Abramovich’s latest victim. With the Premier League champions falling well behind leaders Manchester City and Conte not hiding his frustration at the club’s transfer market failings, he couldn’t afford a defeat against Manchester United on Sunday. That Chelsea won 1-0, thanks to Alvaro Morata’s 55th-minute header winner should calm talk about Conte’s future — for now.Happy!#BlueIsTheColour?? pic.twitter.com/ZQNjQyWnpV— Álvaro Morata (@AlvaroMorata) November 5, 2017Salah repays Klopp’s faithWhen Jurgen Klopp persuaded Mohamed Salah to choose Liverpool ahead of several other suitors from Europe’s elite, even the Reds boss couldn’t have expected his signing to make such a superb start to life at Anfield. Salah’s previous taste of the Premier League had been a disappointing spell with Chelsea, but the Egypt winger was revitalised by a stint in Italy and his form for Roma was good enough to persuade Klopp to bring him back to England in a £34 million deal in the close-season. Salah has repaid Klopp’s faith by scoring 12 goals, including two in Saturday’s 4-1 win at West Ham.Klopp on Salah: “It’s really nice to have him in the team. He is a real goal threat.” pic.twitter.com/ACxdpqxpFt London, United Kingdom | AFP | Manchester City were left eight points clear at the top of the table after they beat Arsenal 3-1 as second-placed Manchester United lost ground with a 1-0 loss away to reigning champions Chelsea.Tottenham Hotspur maintained their title charge thanks to a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace at Wembley while Liverpool piled the pressure on West Ham manager Slaven Bilic with a 4-1 win away to the Hammers. — Liverpool FC (@LFC) November 4, 2017Spurs showing stomach for title fightIt is more than 50 years since Tottenham Hotspur were last crowned champions of England. The intervening decades have witnessed plenty of entertaining football from the London club only for a lack of defensive solidity to prove their undoing. That they backed up their thrilling midweek Champions League win over Real Madrid with a scrappy 1-0 victory over Premier League basement club Crystal Palace suggests, however, that Spurs can produce the kind of grinding wins needed to sustain a title challenge.We are strong all together ?? #COYS pic.twitter.com/HlkMj0gapS— Moussa Sissoko (@MoussaSissoko) November 5, 2017Sanchez struggles sum up Arsenal plight“He wants to be blue,” chanted Manchester City fans in regard to Alexis Sanchez as they recalled how the Arsenal star nearly joined their club during the last transfer window. Yet after a decisive win over the Gunners, with City 12 points clear of Arsene Wenger’s side, it was hard to see how Sanchez, who was not at his best, would get into the Etihad 1st XI even if a deal is revived in January.A frustrating afternoon#MCFCvAFC pic.twitter.com/C3Lx7P44pz— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) November 5, 2017Pulis record under threatWest Bromwich Albion manager Tony Pulis has never been in charge of a team relegated from the Premier League but his side are perilously close to the drop zone, with Saturday’s 1-0 defeat by Huddersfield meaning they’ve now gone nine games without a win. Pulis’s reputation and the fact there are still four sides below the Baggies is likely to buy him some time but he is under no illusions. “You can’t fault my players, who have worked incredibly hard,” Pulis said. “But we are in the results business and these results mean there’s some pressure on me.”Share on: WhatsApplast_img read more

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Gabriella defies rain to win Critchley Salver

first_img29 May 2013 Gabriella defies rain to win Critchley Salver England international Gabriella Cowley shot three-under par in a continuous downpour at Sunningdale to win the Critchley Salver by a shot. Conditions were such that the event was reduced from 36 holes to 18 on the New course. “It was horrendous, it rained from start to finish and it was freezing as well,” said Gabriella, who nevertheless scored 71. The Brocket Hall player made a speedy start and was three-under after four holes. She had two more birdies and a pair of bogeys in the remainder of the round and won by a shot from Gloucestershire champion Jo Hodge. “It’s a lovely one to win and Sunningdale is my favourite course, to even go there is a pleasure,” said Gabriella. She missed only two greens during the round and took advantage of her accuracy with good putting. Gabriella was disappointed with her putting on the last day of the recent English championship, where she was third, and has been working on it since, both at home and at England Performance squad training. “I’ve worked hard on it and it showed because I putted really well at Sunningdale and holed quite a few,” she said. Next stop for the 17-year-old is the German girls’ open, which is played next week and is a qualifying event for the Junior Solheim Cup. Leading final positions Par 74 71 Gabriella Cowley (Brocket Hall) 72 Jo Hodge (The Kendleshire) 74 Emma Tayler (Saunton), Charlotte Thompson (Channels) 75 Claire Smith (Silsden), Emily Slater (Woodhall Spa), Lucy Goddard (Mid Herts), Louisa Tarn (Sunningdale) 76 Elizabeth Swallow (Newbury & Crookham), Chelsea Masters (Highwoods, Bexhill) Charlie Field (Bishop’s Stortford) 77 Amber Ratcliffe (Royal Cromer), Kerry Smith (Waterlooville)last_img read more

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Foot healed, Steelers RB Bell ready to get going

first_imgIn this Aug. 19, 2013 file photo, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell (26) leans for more yardage as he is hit by Washington Redskins linebacker Darryl Tapp (54) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Landover, Md. Bell’s bumpy start to his NFL career is starting to smooth itself out. (AP Photo/Nick Wass, File) by Will GravesAP Sports WriterPITTSBURGH (AP) – Le’Veon Bell believes he’s a quick healer. Of course, he’d like to stop having to prove it.The rookie running back will make his long awaited debut Sunday when the Pittsburgh Steelers travel to London to face the Minnesota Vikings. Bell hasn’t played since spraining his right foot two carries into a preseason game against Washington last month.Originally told he would be out eight weeks, Bell plans to be ready in six. He practiced on Wednesday and barring a late setback will be available as the Steelers try to avoid their first 0-4 start since 1986. While Pittsburgh’s problems go far deeper than the running game – which happens to be 31st in the league – his teammates are anxious to get a look at the second-round pick on the field instead of on the sideline in street clothes.Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell talks with reporters at NFL football training camp at the team’s training facility in Latrobe, Pa., July 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)“I’m just excited to see what he can do because nobody knows,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. “Nobody’s seen him in game action.”Bell was one of the most durable players in the nation during his sophomore and junior seasons at Michigan State. He touched the ball 414 times in 2012 without so much as an ingrown nail. In the span of his first three weeks in Pittsburgh, he sprained his knee, then followed it up by jamming his foot on the second play from scrimmage against the Redskins.Doctors cleared him for contact last week. Too “rusty” to play in last week’s loss to Chicago, Bell will try to do what he can to help turn things around.“When I get the ball in my hands, I want to make positive plays and do what I can with it to give my teammates and coaches confidence in me,” Bell said.The Steelers were confident enough in Bell to let Rashard Mendenhall walk in free agency and make Bell the 48th overall pick in the draft. At 6-foot-2, Bell is tall for a running back, though it’s hard to tell sometimes because of Bell’s churning running style. He made a habit of hurdling defenders at Michigan State and has trimmed down to 230 pounds over the last few months to help him hit the hole a fraction of a second faster.If anything, Bell will at least put an end to the committee approach that hasn’t really worked. Given ample opportunity to make a case to be the starter the trio of Isaac Redman, Felix Jones and Jonathan Dwyer failed to distinguish themselves. Dwyer showed a burst with a 25-yard sprint against the Bears, but his conditioning remains an issue and he’s a non-factor in the passing game.That’s where Bell may have his biggest advantage. He caught 32 passes for the Spartans last fall, and a few well-designed screens against the Vikings may help take some of the pressure off an offensive line that at times has looked overmatched without Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey, who is out for the season with a knee injury.“We wouldn’t have brought (Bell) here if he wasn’t an all-around back,” Roethlisberger said. “He’s more than just a guy that is going to run the ball.”Forced off the field for the first time in his career, Bell immersed himself in the playbook.“Even when I wasn’t playing, I knew everything,” Bell said. “The switches that we do week-to-week, I picked that up quick pretty quick.”All of which is nice, but Bell understands it’s time for him to stay in the game. His role may be limited as he works his way back but when he’s out there, he knows he has to prove he can withstand the pounding he’s sure to receive against a team that – much like the Steelers – is looking to break out of an early season funk.“This is my chance to show these guys what I’m all about,” Bell said.Asked if maybe he’s fibbing a bit about his progress because of the pressure he feels to return and Bell just shakes his head.“I don’t feel like I’m rushing it at all,” he said. “At the end of the day, I know that I have a long career (ahead), but I feel like I’m ready now. And I’m ready to help this team win games. (And) my foot hasn’t shown any signs of setbacks, so it feels like it’s ready, and I know I’m ready to go.”__NOTES: DE Brett Keisel (hamstring) did not practice on Wednesday. CB Cortez Allen (ankle) and NT Steve McLendon (hamstring) did practice and are expected to play against the Vikings … G Ramon Foster had a meeting with Steelers coach Mike Tomlin earlier this week for pointers on how to be a better leader with Pouncey not available. “You don’t want to be a leader in this sport and in this group and talk down to guys,” Foster said. “You’ve got to be able to coach and motivate guys, and I went to him to get some advice about that.”last_img read more

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