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.
LeGarrette Blount will begin next season on the bench.
A league spokesperson informed NFL Media on Tuesday that the New England Patriots running back has been suspended without pay for the first game of the 2015 regular season for violating the NFL Policy and Program on Substances of Abuse.
The sixth-year back played a core role during New England's Super Bowl run after being released by the Pittsburgh Steelers in mid-November. After running for just 266 yards over 11 games with the Steelers, Blount hammered defenses for 281 yards over New England's final five games of the regular season. He blasted opponents for another 189 yards over three playoff tilts under coach Bill Belichick.
Blount is eligible to participate in all offseason and preseason practices. He'll be permitted to make his season debut Week 2, the story added. It's a brief suspension, but Blount's absence puts New England in a pinch out of the gate. Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen are gone, leaving Jonas Gray, James White, Brandon Bolden and James Develin next up to get work.
LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden, who excels on special teams, are going to be on next year's roster. There will be one pass-catching back; whether that player is Shane Vereen or James White or someone else remains to be seen. If Stevan Ridley is re-signed, that's four running backs. There will also be competition from Tyler Gaffney, a 6-foot-1, 227-pound back who spent his rookie season on injured reserve. So Gray will probably have to prove himself in the offseason.
Vereen, who had 11 receptions in the Super Bowl, is a free agent. He probably won't cost the team a ton (for reference, Danny Woodhead got a two year, $3.5 million contract from San Diego in 2013).
The Patriots let Woodhead walk because they also had Vereen, so their decision may be based on their depth at the position. If they feel confident that rising second-year pro James White can fill Vereen's spot, you might not see No. 34 in a Pats uniform come next fall.
Part of Vereen's appeal is that he plays in a friendly system, but he lacks consistency, even in PPR formats. The team's willingness to re-sign Vereen will likely come down to price.
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.
Jonas Gray is a surprise inactive. It's an indicator that the Patriots are likely to go pass-heavy and use LeGarrette Blount as their primary between-the-tackles running back. Baltimore is a bad matchup, so Blount is not an especially attractive play in daily formats, though his 12-14 carry workload should be safe.
Friday, January 9, 2015, 6:47pm
Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount (illness) was removed from the injury report Friday. Blount has averaged 12.8 touches in the last five games he’s played, but may not see a big workload with New England likely to take a pass-heavy approach against a shaky Baltimore secondary.
Friday, January 9, 2015, 6:47pm
Patriots RB Jonas Gray (ankle, probable) took limited practice reps all week and is probable for Week 19. Gray has taken a backseat to LeGarrette Blount after missing practice on the heels of his huge Week 11 (38 carries for 199 yards and four touchdowns). Expect a handful of carries against a tough Baltimore rush defense.
In desperate need of a feature back with Le'Veon Bell's immediate future uncertain, the Steelers are working out former Texans, Vikings and Browns running back Ben Tate, ESPN reported Tuesday morning.
If the visit goes well, they are expected to sign the 26-year-old, once thought to be the best running back on the open market back in March.
Some inside the Steelers organization are doubtful that Bell will make an appearance on Saturday in prime time against the Ravens, which would make the need for an all-purpose back like Tate that much greater, the story said. The piece went on to say that in some respects, this is the ideal opportunity Tate has been waiting for. Just like former Steelers running back LeGarrette Blount knows, strong playoff performances can change perception, and after getting cut by two teams in less than a year, Tate is longing for that opportunity. The Ravens do present a tough matchup however, as they are ranked third in allowing fantasy points to RBs.
Friday, December 26, 2014, 6:53pm
Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount (shoulder, questionable) took limited practice reps all week and is questionable for Week 17. With Jonas Gray already ruled out, Blount could see a significant workload, or he could sit out altogether. It’s a meaningless game for the Patriots, so we aren’t expecting much from the team’s starters.
Friday, December 26, 2014, 6:53pm
Patriots RB Jonas Gray (ankle, out) missed practice Friday after taking limited reps Thursday and is out for Week 17. If LeGarrette Blount remains out, then Brandon Bolden could be the team’s RB1 against the Bills. It’s a tough matchup, so there isn’t much upside here.
Friday, December 19, 2014, 6:02pm
Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount (shoulder, questionable) took limited practice reps all week and is questionable for Week 16. Blount was fairly ineffective in Week 15, which led to Jonas Gray seeing more snaps and touches, though Blount got the rushing touchdown. We’re assuming he’s going to play, but anything can happen in the Patriot backfield.
Thursday, December 18, 2014, 6:14pm
Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount (shoulder) took limited practice reps again Thursday. Blount was fairly ineffective in Week 15, which led to Jonas Gray seeing more snaps and touches, though Blount got the rushing touchdown. Keep in mind that anything can happen in the Patriot backfield.
Wednesday, December 17, 2014, 5:57pm
Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount (shoulder) took limited practice reps Wednesday. Blount was fairly ineffective in Week 15, which led to Jonas Gray seeing more snaps and touches, though Blount got the rushing touchdown. As always, anything can happen in the Patriot backfield.
Friday, December 12, 2014, 6:26pm
Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount (not injury related) was removed from the injury report Friday. Blount is fully expected to play against Miami, who has struggled against the run in recent weeks.
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