The Steelers will begin the 2015 season without their top running back. The NFL has suspended RB LeVeon Bell for three games without pay for violating its substance-abuse policy, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported.
Bell has appealed the ruling, ESPN reported. The tailback has also been docked a fourth game check by the league, per Schefter.
If the suspension holds, Bell can take part in preseason games and training camp before serving his ban away from the club.
Bell’s suspension stems from a DUI charge last summer. He was sentenced to probation, and the charge, along with a marijuana possession count, can be removed from his record if he completes 15 months of service. His former Steelers teammate, LeGarrette Blount, has garnered a one-game suspension for the incident.
Obviously losing Bell for any stretch is a major blow to the Steelers offense. Bell emerged as one of the game’s star dual threats at the position in 2014, racking up more than 2,000 rushing-receiving yards. Ex-Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams figures to have a bigger role with Bell out of the Pittsburgh lineup to begin next season. This could drop Bell a few slots come draft time, but given his workload and last year's success, he should still be a very desirable draft-day selection.
Update: The deal is for $4 million over two years, but is effectively $2 million for one year, per Jason La Canfora.
LeVeon Bell is facing a 2-4 game suspension and the Williams signing makes Bell more appealing as a 1.01 or 1.02 pick since he can provide starter-caliber numbers while Bell is sidelined. Over the past two seasons, Williams has averaged 12.4 PPR fantasy points in the eight games where he's touched the ball at least 15 times. That equates to high-end RB2 numbers, so he should be able to carry the load while Bell is suspended.
Steelers star running back LeVeon Bell is expected to be suspended for the first two games of next season as a result of his August arrest on marijuana charges, sources told ESPN NFL Insider John Clayton.
Bell was shaping up as the top overall pick in 2015 fantasy drafts, but a potential two-game suspension will cause his draft stock to take a hit. It's difficult to draft a player who is going to miss at least two games in the first round.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back LeVeon Bell will spend 15 months on probation in a first-offender's program stemming from his arrest on marijuana possession and DUI charges with former teammate LeGarrette Blount.
Bell may face a two-game suspension from the league as a first time DUI offender.
"The knee is close to 100 percent," Bell said. "I'm probably about 85-90 percent, been able to run on it a little bit. So I'm getting back to work out a little."
Bell was the #2 RB (behind DeMarco Murray) in 2014, and held the #3 PPG in standard formats. He was #1 in both categories in PPR formats. He's a shoo-in to have a first round ADP in 2015 fantasy drafts.
Saturday, January 3, 2015, 7:03pm
Friday, January 2, 2015, 5:04pm
Steelers RB LeVeon Bell (knee, out) missed practice all week and is out for Week 18. With Bell out, Josh Harris should see the most touches in the Pittsburgh backfield. If he’s not able to run the ball effectively (which seems likely given Baltimore’s stout run defense), look for Ben Roethlisberger to air it out against a shaky secondary. Harris should be a decent cheap option in daily formats due to workload alone.
Harris had just nine carries for 16 yards in five regular-season games, but the 5-11, 210-pounder ripped off a 59-yard run last Sunday night against the Cincinnati Bengals.
"Josh is ready," said Bell, who did some light running and rode a stationary bike on Wednesday. "I’ve been watching him all year and I know what he’s capable of. You got a little glimpse of him (in) the Bengals game. He’s explosive. He knows all of his assignments. He’s not out there thinking any more. He’s just playing football. He’s only going to get better."
The Ravens are tough to run on, so we have Harris projected for about 74 yards on 18.7 touches.
"It's too early to tell, but it doesn't look good," one source inside the organization told NFL Media's Aditi Kinkhabwala.
A Monday morning MRI on Bell's hyperextended right knee revealed no ligament damage, per ESPN's Adam Schefter, who reported that it will be "difficult" for Pittsburgh's star running back to suit up for this weekend's AFC playoff bout with Baltimore.
Jason La Canfora is also reporting Bell is 'likely out' for this weekend's game. Josh Harris is next up for the Steelers at RB, in what is a very tough matchup against the Ravens who are ranked third in allowing fantasy points to RBs. Dri Archer could also see more work, and the team is very close to signing free agent Ben Tate. Teams have had success throwing against the Ravens so that may be how Pittsburgh attacks this week if Bell is in fact out.
LeVeon Bell slowly hobbled to and from the Steelers locker room on Monday, a little more than 12 hours after hyperextending his right knee in the third quarter of the Steelers' 27-17 AFC North-clinching win over Cincinnati.
Coach Mike Tomlin said Bell suffered no structural damage to the knee from the hit from Bengals safety Reggie Nelson, meaning there is a possibility that the Steelers team MVP could be ready to play Saturday night against Baltimore in a wild card playoff game.
“If he suffered no structural damage (ACL, PCL), then yes, he can play,” said Dr. David Geier, an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist in Charleston, S.C. “He would just have to work through discomfort, stiffness and weakness.”
Geier said pain killers toradol and cortisone are popular treatments to allow players to get back on the field quickly after suffering injuries similar to Bell's.
The Steelers won't have an update on Bell's status until Tuesday, and Bell's agent, Adisi Bakari, did not return a message.
It's going to be a short week for Bell, so he has that working against him. But according to the doctor quoted in the story, it's just a matter of playing through any discomfort. The Ravens don't present a great matchup, ranked third in allowing fantasy points to RBs. Bell had a 10-20-0 line in Week 9 when the teams last met and then an 11-59-0 line back in Week 2.
The Steelers received a major scare on the way to winning their first AFC North title since 2010.
Coach Mike Tomlin said after the Steelers finished 11-5 and secured the No. 3 seed in the AFC playoffs that Bell hyperextended his knee and did not appear to suffer a serious injury. Bell was one of the last people out of the Steelers locker room, and he had his right knee wrapped in ice and walked slowly to a cart that took him to the players' parking lot at Heinz Field.
"We'll gather more significant information as we proceed through the week," Tomlin said. "We're thankful that it's not anything major."
It's still way too early, but Bell is no sure thing to play in the Wild Card game at home against Baltimore. Bell did not have a brace on his injured knee or walk with the aid of crutches and overall the injury isn't considered serious. Backup Josh Harris carried five times for just seven yards.
The Steelers are rolling the dice that LeVeon Bell will remain injury free and able to keep up his heavy workload over the final month by not giving him much in the way of an experienced backup following the release of LeGarrette Blount.
It's a chance the Steelers are willing and, more appropriately, have to take because they don't have many choices.
The Steelers are going to ride Bell as much as they can.
“We will take all he can give,” offensive coordinator Todd Haley said. “We will give all he can take.”
The team announced the move on Tuesday.
Blount, who signed a two-year deal as a free agent after a strong playoff performance with the Patriots, reportedly left the playing area in Tennessee last night before the game against the Titans ended. Starter LeVeon Bell (who was the other half of the alleged preseason pot-smoking Pittsburgh duo) gained more than 200 yards on the night; Blount gained none.
Eight weeks ago, Blount had 113 yards in a prime-time win over the Panthers. Per Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Blount had been an “internal problem” over the past month, and Blount had been “dragging down” Bell.
Blount will now be eligible for waivers, just like Ben Tate with the Browns who was released just hours ago. The Steelers will likely have to make a move for another back as only Dri Archer and Will Johnson sit behind Bell on the depth chart. Like we said about Tate, perhaps take a wait and see approach on Blount, as it's possible he lands in a situation that could end up being better. Given the choice, teams in need of a RB would likely rather have Tate.
Tuesday, September 16, 2014, 10:21am
There continues to be no splitting of carries at RB for the Steelers. It's the second-straight week Bell has dominated snaps. At this point, consider Blount just a handcuff who will steal an in-close TD from time to time.
The Steelers also used mostly 3 WR sets in the game, trailing most of it: Markus Wheaton (58), Justin Brown (55) and Antonio Brown (52). Antonio Brown missed some time while getting checked for a concussion but did return. Justin Brown finished with just one catch for six yards while Wheaton's line was 5-38-0.
Wednesday, September 10, 2014, 7:02pm
Steelers RB LeVeon Bell (not injury related, probable) practiced fully Wednesday. Bell is good to go for a tough matchup against the Ravens.
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