The Steelers’ battery of Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and LeVeon Bell could take the field together Friday night in New Orleans. Precedent says Big Ben and Brown will play at least a few series together, unless coach Mike Tomlin heeds caution.
The wild card is Bell, who has yet to be tackled to the ground in live action since tearing multiple ligaments in his knee on Nov. 1 against Cincinnati. Bell can’t start his season until Week 4 because of a three-game ban for missed drug tests, so the Steelers might want to get him a few reps before then, especially considering how good he's looked in practice work. He's been a full participant every day, though he carries the ball with the proverbial "bubble" designated for star players, especially ones coming off an injury.
Steelers running back LeVeon Bell has been suspended three games by the NFL for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
The running back was facing a four-game suspension but appealed to the league. Though Bell will be eligible to practice and play with the team through the preseason, he will miss the team’s first three regular-season games against the Washington Redskins, Cincinnati Bengals and Philadelphia Eagles.
This will boost Bell's projections, but he's still a little dicey as a 1st round pick since he'll miss the first three games of the year. He has extra value in leagues where more than half the teams make the playoffs. He's also recovering from MCL and PCL tears but recently declared himself 100 percent, for what it's worth.
Expect LeVeon Bell, whether he plays 12 or 16 games, to be heavily involved in the passing game, particularly in the red zone.
The story was about the status of Ladarius Green, but Bell is mentioned as a possible way the Steelers will adapt should Green not be ready when the season starts. We project Bell for 52 receptions and 477 yards this season for 12 games. However, should Green have to miss the start, or a part, or all of the season, this could drive Bell's value a little higher.
And he wants more.
The fourth-year player has seen a sizable workload in camp.
"As long as my knee's not swelling or having any setbacks, I will continue to do more," said Bell, who tore his medial collateral and posterior cruciate ligaments in November. "My first day running, March 1, I had a vision I'd be ready around this time. This is my goal to be out here ready to compete."
Of course the concern about Bell is his pending four-game suspension.
While Bell awaits the results of an appeal for missed drug tests - he has declined comment on the dynamics of the case. Aside from that, the story said he's looked like the Bell from 2014. It also said the Steelers may opt to keep him out of preseason games.
The Steelers surely are concerned with the possibility of not having running back LeVeon Bell for the first month of the season, and for good reason, as he continues to wait to hear the results of the the appeal of his four-game suspension for violation the NFL's drug policy.
As for being concerned about Bell's surgically repaired knee, there are far fewer worries, and that's been solidified through the first three days of training camp at St. Vincent College.
Bell is less than nine months removed from an ugly knee injury he suffered in November against the Bengals that tore his his MCL and PCL, requiring surgery and keeping him out of the final two months of the season.
Through the early stages of camp, you'd be hard-pressed to tell that Bell is recovering from any injury let alone a severe knee injury. You can lump offensive coordinator Todd Haley into that group of being pleasantly surprised, the story all said. That's good news for potential owners and it looks like Bell's injury recovery isn't a cause for a lot of concern. But as the story said, a possible four-game suspension awaits, and we've dropped Bell down our list as a result.
Bell told the media Thursday he plans to appeal the suspension "sometime in August" and that he was notified of a missed test and his suspension in March, according to Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin confirmed that Bell's appeal will not be heard until the second week of August.
"I don't want to be a distraction to my teammates or to Steelers Nation," Bell added. "So I'm just going to keep moving forward and let everything handle itself."
The appeals process is bound to interrupt Bell's rehab from his season-ending knee injury, but the running back added he was confident that he'd be ready for the start of the season, whether or not he's suspended. There have been lots of reports about why Bell missed the test, one of which he changed his cell number.
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports there's "a strong sense" the LeVeon Bell suspension will stand, adding that "none in the know believes Bell has a strong chance to win the appeal."
Per Stan Savran of Pittsburgh's 970 ESPN radio, Bell claims he changed his cell phone number and thus wasn't notified of when he was to be tested. However, it's unclear if that defense would be sufficient. Florio suggests Bell might be required to notify the league of any change in contact info, which would put the responsibility back on him.
ESPN's John Clayton noted Bell has a chance to get out of the suspension if the drug tester can't "show he made good effort to contact" Bell, but added that it will still be hard to win the appeal. From a fantasy standpoint, Bell owners will want to make sure they have DeAngelo Williams.
Despite being one of the best bargains in the league, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown will report to training camp Thursday, hopeful and confident that his contract will be addressed before the start of the regular season, sources familiar with the situation told ESPN.
Having Brown in training camp will be one less headache for a Steelers team that already has running back LeVeon Bell facing a four-game suspension and wide receiver Martavis Bryant serving a one-year suspension.
But at some point, Pittsburgh likely will be asked to consider options to compensate Brown like one of the top receivers in the game that he has proved to be, per a source.
Brown is obviously a top fantasy pick in all formats, but it looks like owners won't have to worry about a holdout situation. He's coming off a 136-catch season and is schedule to make 6.25 million this year. He still has two years left on his deal.
There are three stages of intervention in the NFL, and before last week, LeVeon Bell was believed to be in Stage 2.
That was because Bell was suspended three games, later reduced to two games, to start the 2015 season. That ban was the result of Bell's marijuana arrest in the North Hills in August 2014. Coincidentally, that arrest was recently expunged from his legal record after he completed his 15-month probation.
Depending on your perspective, the good news for Bell is that he's only in trouble with the league this time. But another screw-up, another failed or missed test, and Bell is in Martavis Bryant territory, or Stage 3 of intervention.
The story nicely describes all three stages on how NFL drug testing works. As for Stage 3, the author said: After serving a suspension, players are placed in Stage 3, which unless the medical director chooses to discharge a player from the program, lasts the remainder of a player's career. Like stages 1-2, players are prescribed a treatment plan though testing is now random. A failed test will result in a one-year ban, unless the suspension is for marijuana, in which case it will be 10 games. Bryant was suspended for one year, not 10 games, for multiple failed or missing drug tests.
Steelers running back LeVeon Bell is indeed facing a four-game suspension for missing a drug test. But Bell continues to insist that he hasn’t missed a drug test — and that he won’t be missing any games.
In a comment to an altered photo on Instagram of Bell wearing a gas mask with a bong, Bell said from his verified account that “I’m not gonna miss games, trust me.”
Many will scoff at the proclamation, given the lingering perception that Commissioner Roger Goodell retains final say over all player disciplinary issues. In 2014, however, the league agreed to use a panel of neutral arbitrators for all punishments arising under the substance-abuse and PED policies. So Bell will have a chance to have a truly independent party assess whether the league’s conclusions are warranted.
Of course the story from this past weekend is Bell missed several drug tests. He's dropped to ninth in our RB rankings for now and obviously this is a situation to monitor because Bell, you can argue, is the top fantasy back this year. DeAngelo Williams would again see the bulk of the work without Bell in the lineup.
While Bell's case is still under review, the news cannot be welcome for the Steelers or Bell.
If he did indeed miss "several" tests (and not just one), it seems much less likely that he'll win his appeal and have his suspension reduced. We've moved bell down to #11 in standard formats and #9 in PPR. He's worth consideration in the second round, but it's difficult to invest an early round draft pick that will miss the first month of the season.
The suspension is the result of a missed drug test, not a failed one, sources said. The reason it hasn't been announced is that the appeal process is ongoing.
No date for Bell's appeal has been set, although it's expected that it will be heard before the regular season. If it's not overturned, he would miss the first four games of the season.
According to the league, missing a test is the same as failing it. As the article notes, Bell is appealing the decision, so it could be overturned, but there's a good chance that he misses the first four games of the season. This would seriously hurt his draft stock while boosting the stock of his backup, DeAngelo Williams. Williams averaged 21.3 touches for 112 yards and 1.1 touchdowns in the 10 games that Bell missed last season. Williams is 33, so owners should not expect that sort of production again, though he should be a serviceable RB2 as long as Bell is out. After his ban was reduced to two games last season, Bell's ADP remained in the early 1st round, though a four-game suspension is a lot tougher to swallow. We expect he'll fall out of the 1st round, while Williams' ADP will rise a few rounds. The silver lining here is that Bell has an extra month to recover from MCL and PCL surgery, so he should be good to go in October.
Pittsburgh Steelers star running back LeVeon Bell says he's on schedule for training camp and that his leg is "probably stronger than it ever was" after rehabbing a right knee injury that knocked him out of last season.
In a sit-down interview with ESPN on Saturday, Bell said he's beyond all the physical hurdles he faced, and right on time for him to report to the Steelers on July 28. But it will be up to the team to decide his workload in training camp and the preseason.
Bell suffered a torn MCL and PCL in Week 8 and had surgery last November. He played five games last year and rushed for 556 yards with three touchdowns. He'll likely be the first RB off the board in your fantasy draft this summer and perhaps even a top-five selection. Looks like there are no issues with his rehab up to this point and he's ready to go.
Bell has averaged 23.2 touches for 132 total yards and 0.64 TD in his last 22 games and is the clear cut #1 RB when healthy. If he is truly 100 percent ready to go for training camp, then he is a very solid pick in the 1st round of fantasy drafts. The Steelers would be wise to utilize the very capable DeAngelo Williams to keep Bell fresh, but they haven't shown much of a willingness to do so, as Bell has averaged 22.8 touches (for 115 total yards) in six games with Williams available.
The running back tweeted he was "moving on" from football on Friday morning, a statement that smelled like an April Fools' Day prank from the beginning. But Bell let the tweet stew for nearly two hours before confirming the prank.
Bell left the line hanging so long some checked with a Bell rep to ensure the joke was nothing more. Shortly after 11, Bell tweeted, 'LOL!!! some fell for it, some didn't ... but anyways, APRIL FOOLS!'
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