The Super Bowl-expectations are high this year for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but unfortunately, those expectations may have to be tempered just a bit.
According to ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano, his sources have told him that star running back Le’Veon Bell is facing a four-game suspension to start the 2016 season for missing a mandatory drug test.
Le’Veon Bell, 24, was suspended for the first two games of the 2015 season, stemming from a DUI charge in August of 2014, when a vehicle he was riding in with former backup running back LeGarrette Blount was stopped by local police.
- The two were charged with marijuana possession, and Bell, who was the driver, was subsequently charged with a DUI.
Bell was perhaps the most important cog in Todd Haley’s offensive game-plan in 2014, when he rushed for 1,361 yards and added another 854 yards through the air on 83 receptions. Sadly for the Steelers, Bell suffered a hyper-extended knee in a the regular season-finale against the Bengals at Heinz Field and was out for the wild card playoff game against Baltimore a week later.
Last season, in-addition to his two-game suspension to start the season, Bell missed the final two months after suffering a torn MCL, once again at the hands of the Bengals in a Week 8 match-up at Heinz Field on November 1.
If the reports are true, and Bell is indeed out for the first month of the season, the Steelers will have to rely heavily on veteran running back DeAngelo Williams, who piled up 907 yards on the ground while filling in admirably for Bell a season ago.
- Behind Williams, the Steelers have Fitzgerald Toussaint.
While fans remember Fitzgerald Toussaint for his fumble in the AFC Divisional loss to the Broncos, Toussaint played well overall for the Steelers in the playoffs. However, beyond Williams and Toussaint, the Steelers 2016 running back depth chat is thin.
While the reports on Bell aren’t official just yet, it is factual that Martavis Bryant, who was suspended for the first four games a season ago for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, will miss all of 2016 after failing multiple drug tests earlier this offseason.