Bell, Blount Likely to Face Marijuana Charges
Steelers running backs Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount both are expected to be charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession after a car Bell was driving was pulled over Wednesday in Ross, Pennsylvania, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Ross police told the Post-Gazette that they also expect to charge Bell with driving under the influence of marijuana.
It's unclear how this incident will affect their playing time against the Eagles.
Bell and/or Blount could face discipline under the NFL's substance abuse policy if they are charged, according to NFL.com.
Bell, who set a Steelers rookie record with 1,259 yards from scrimmage last season according to ESPN.com, has the starting job nailed down at running back. Blount, signed as a free agent during the offseason, is expected to complement him. Dri Archer is a running back-wide receiver hybrid and fullback Will Johnson is the only other running back expected to make the team.
No one among Jordan Hall, Tauren Poole, Stephen Houston, Josh Harris and Miguel Maysonet have made a strong case to make the team.
Keisel is Back
Brett Keisel's career isn't over yet. The Steelers signed the veteran defensive lineman Tuesday, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Keisel, who turns 36 on Sept. 19, became a free agent in March after 12 years with the Steelers. He flew to Arizona to sign with the Cardinals, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but the Steelers called him and he flew back to Pittsburgh.
The Steelers have some promising young defensive linemen, including rookie second-rounder Stephon Tuitt and undrafted rookie Josh Mauro, who had two sacks in their win over Buffalo. Apparently, that potential isn't comforting enough right now, so the Steelers brought back Keisel, who started 12 games last season and had four sacks. Keisel was a Pro Bowler in 2010 when the Steelers reached Super Bowl XLV.
Keisel isn't likely to play Thursday, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Steelers Lock Up Another Offensive Lineman
Scratch another free-agent concern off the list.
The Steelers don't have to worry about Marcus Gilbert hitting the open market after the season. They signed him to an extension that keeps him under contract through 2019, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
After investing high draft picks on offensive linemen in recent seasons, the Steelers are now investing money. They signed three-time Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey to a $48 million contract that takes him through 2019, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Gilbert's deal is worth $30.8 million.
Gilbert has the highest grade among Steelers offensive linemen through the first two preseason games, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). He's allowed no sacks, quarterback hits or quarterback hurries.
Position Battle at Tackle
In a lower-income bracket on the offensive line are Mike Adams and Guy Whimper. They are competing to be the top backup at tackle, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. That doesn't necessarily mean the loser of this battle won't make the team.
Adams, entering his third season, has been charged with four quarterback hurries in the first two preseason games, according to Pro Football Focus. Whimper, who entered the league in 2006, is responsible for one sack, a quarterback hit and a quarterback hurry.
The Steelers' no-huddle offense produced 13 points in the first quarter of their preseason victory over the Buffalo Bills. They'll have a chance Thursday to see how it operates in a hostile environment.
Ben Roethlisberger has quizzed the offense on the no-huddle, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The three lowest scorers have to buy pizza and wings for the entire offense.
Wide Receiver Stock Report
Justin Brown is "solidly entrenched as the fourth receiver," according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, even though the newspaper buried that nugget in a notebook that led with the no-huddle quiz.
Brown, drafted in the sixth round last season, spent all of 2013 on the practice squad. He has two catches for nine yards in the preseason.
Martavis Bryant, the Steelers' fourth-round pick this year, probably doesn't have to worry about making the team, but he has some work to do to move up the depth chart.
He hasn't played yet with the first team and won't until he improves his practice habits, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Here's what Roethlisberger told the paper:
He’s got to kind of earn his way onto the first group. That’s just the way it is. We have guys right now who are ahead of him on the depth chart that are playing at a high level. He’s going to have to really bust his butt to earn that spot with the first group.
Bryant has caught three passes for 37 yards in the preseason. He fumbled twice, losing one of them, in the opener.
Pro Football Focus has given Bryant the third worst overall grade among all Steelers offensive players for the first two preseason games. The only players who have graded lower are backup quarterbacks Bruce Gradkowski and Landry Jones, who have combined to complete 28 of 51 passes for 240 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions.