SATURDAY, 1:35pm: Bell missed several drug tests, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk). Players in the substance-abuse program are subject to far more tests than their brethren with clean drug records, whom are only generally tested once a year, Smith points out. Failing to turn up for many tests would make his chances of winning an appeal highly unlikely and potentially cloud his future.
FRIDAY, 8:53am: Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell is facing a four-game suspension for a violation of the NFL’s drug policy, sources close to the situation tell ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano (on Twitter). The suspension is the result of a missed drug test rather than a failed one.
There has been no announcement on the pending suspension because the appeal process is ongoing, Graziano hears. No date for Bell’s appeal has been set, though it’s expected that it will be heard before the start of the regular season. Bell was sidelined for the first two games of the 2015 season because of an arrest on marijuana possession and DUI in the summer of 2014.
If Bell is sidelined for the first month of the season, the Steelers will likely use DeAngelo Williams as their primary back until he returns. Behind Williams, the Steelers also have backs Fitzgerald Toussaint and Daryl Richardson, as shown on Roster Resource.
Between Bell’s suspension and injury last season, the tailback appeared in only six games for the Steelers in 2015. Despite Bell’s 10-game absence, the Steelers had the eighth-best yards-per-carry average in the league last season, when Williams amassed 907 yards and 11 touchdowns on 200 carries in his age-32 campaign.
Bell has now put himself in a bad spot as he enters a contract year. Not only is the 24-year-old returning from a torn MCL and PCL, he also has raised some serious concerns about his off-field behavior. This summer, Bell declared in a rap song that he is seeking $15MM/year on his next contract.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.