Updates from Tuesday, Sept. 2
Tomlin doesn't say if Steelers have punished Bell and LeGarrette Blount yet. Both will play against Browns.— Scott Brown (@ScottBrown_ESPN) September 2, 2014
Fantasy alert: Mike Tomlin asked if RB LeVeon Bell could get 25 carries a game. Says: "Yeah, I think he is." #Steelers— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) September 2, 2014
Updates from Tuesday, Aug. 26
Alan Robinson of the Pittsburgh Post-Tribune has an update on Bell and Blount:
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said “everything's on the table” concerning possible disciplinary action for running backs Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount.
Whether that means team-mandated punishment, Tomlin wasn't saying Monday. And even if he does punish them, Tomlin won't reveal it publicly.
“We don't do it in a reactionary fashion,” Tomlin said. “We don't wait for something to happen. That's part of our culture here. You are going to have people who step outside the bounds of that and they're going to be dealt with swiftly and appropriately, more times than not in-house. But the bottom line is we don't approach that in a reactionary fashion. Our business is too late then.”
As for how team leaders handle a teammate getting in trouble, Ben Roethlisberger said, “There are a lot of things as a leader that you have to do, a lot of different ways you deal with different people.
“To some people, you have to know that you have to yell at them. Some guys, you just pull them aside and talk to them. As a leader, that's the fun part, learning how each guy needs to be led.”
Chris Bradford of the Beaver County Times passed along more comments from Tomlin:
Tomlin: Bell and Blount "rest assured we deal with unfortunate situations in an appropriate manner." Will play Thursday.— Chris Bradford (@BCTBradford) August 26, 2014
Updates from Monday, Aug. 25
Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette passed along comments from head coach Mike Tomlin on Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount:
Mike Tomlin says If Steelers discipline Bell and Bount they will do so internally, not make it known. Aka, no Steelers imposed suspension— Ed Bouchette (@EdBouchette) August 25, 2014
Updates from Friday, Aug. 22
WPXI in Pittsburgh released the full affidavit of the incident.
Brandon Hudson of WPXI highlights one particular exchange from the affidavit:
ESPN.com's Scott Brown has statements from Mike Tomlin and Bell on the incident:
Bell rushed for 23 yards on nine carries and later apologized for causing a distraction but declined to answer any questions that didn't pertain to football.
Asked whether the arrests of Blount and Bell led to any distractions on the field, Tomlin said, "What happened yesterday had nothing to do with our performance tonight. We're not going to make an excuse for that performance. We're going to own that."
Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com has an update on Bell and LeGarrette Blount:
Bell and Blount combined for 55 rushing yards on 16 carries in Philadelphia on Thursday. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin believes he would have let his players off the hook if he held them out.
"I didn't view it as punishment to send them home, to be quite honest with you," Tomlin said. "I rather them play more than to remove them from the game."
Updates from Thursday, Aug. 21
After the game, NFL Network's Jeff Darlington had Blount's thoughts:
LeGarrette Blount: "I'm sorry for the distraction I caused my team."— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) August 22, 2014
Scott Brown of ESPN.com has an update on Le'Veon Bell's role in tonight's game against the Philadelphia Eagles:
Le'Veon Bell starts at running back for the Steelers.— Scott Brown (@ScottBrown_ESPN) August 21, 2014
Albert Breer of NFL.com provides an update on Blount and Bell's charges:
Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell has been charged with possession and DUI, and LaGarrette Blount has been charged with possession, per the Ross PD.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) August 21, 2014
Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette notes not to expect punishment for either player anytime soon:
Steelers will allow NFL to handle any disciplinary measures vs. Bell, Blount. Again, Goodell not likely to act in 2014. Both play tonight— Ed Bouchette (@EdBouchette) August 21, 2014
NFL.com's Aditi Kinkhabwala reports that both Bell and Blount will play tonight:
Mike Tomlin's plan is to play both Bell, Blount tonight. Jobs decided tonight; whole team shouldn't suffer. +Not a knee-jerk kind of guy— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) August 21, 2014
Mike Tomlin's decision to play Bell, Blount could theoretically be overruled by GM Kevin Colbert. Told by two team sources: unlikely— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) August 21, 2014
Told only reason LeVeon Bell didn't travel w/ the Steelers is bc arrest so close to flight time...Blount got through quicker and made flight— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) August 21, 2014
Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette details how the league may proceed with the situation going forward:
In the longer term, Bell and Blount opened themselves up to more scrutiny by NFL drug testers with their pending charges for marijuana possession but likely will not face a suspension in 2014.
Under the league’s collective bargaining agreement with its Players Association, commissioner Roger Goodell can impose up to a four-game suspension for players charged with illegal use or possession of drugs of abuse other than alcohol. However, in similar cases, Goodell has suspended players for only one game and those did not come until the following season after they were charged.
Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes that Blount traveled with the team for their preseason game this weekend, while Bell was forced to catch a later flight:
The Pittsburgh Steelers backfield may have suffered a major setback in light of Wednesday's news regarding running backs Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount.
According to Adam Schefter, Bell, Blount and a female passenger were arrested and charged with marijuana possession. Bell is also being charged with driving under the influence:
Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports claims Blount was not actually arrested:
Blount is traveling with the Steelers according to a source. Was not arrested and was told he could call someone and leave the scene— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) August 21, 2014
Bob Hazen of WTAE added further specifics, as did The Associated Press' Will Graves:
Ross police say traffic officer detected smoke coming from Camaro operated by Bell, who was taken to hospital to have blood drawn for DUI.— Will Graves (@WillGravesAP) August 20, 2014
Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com added that the trio was taken into custody:
Detective Brian Kohlhepp of the Ross Township, Pennsylvania Police Department confirmed to NFL Media that running backs Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount were pulled over Wednesday around 1:30 p.m. ET. They, along with an unidentified female passenger in the backseat, were taken into custody and admitted to marijuana possession.
Pennsylvania law states that possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by 30 days' incarceration and a maximum $500 fine (h/t NORML.org).
The news will certainly not sit well with the team, especially with it being mere weeks away from the regular season.
Blount expressed optimism upon joining the Steelers that he and Bell would complement each other well, per Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
I feel like every running back in this league wants to be a starter. Obviously I want to start, and I knew that when I went to New England. I wasn't the starting guy. When I come here, I know I'm not the starting guy. But you work hard and go out there and do everything as though you are the starter. Sometimes it plays out that way, sometimes it doesn't.
I like Le'Veon. I like his running style. He rushed for 800-plus yards and eight touchdowns as a rookie. I wouldn't mind complementing him at all.
But Rotoworld's Raymond Summerlin hinted that he was unimpressed with Bell's rookie campaign in his recent analysis:
So, as I said last night, he is a marginal talent with uncertain opportunity. I am out on Le'Veon Bell.— Raymond Summerlin (@RMSummerlin) August 17, 2014
Based on the lackluster production Bell put forth in his first NFL season on the ground (3.5 yards per carry) and the empty ambition Blount had to be a starter in light of this legal incident, Pittsburgh's backfield is in trouble. Rookie Dri Archer is the next man up. Although he's extremely fast, Archer is inexperienced, diminutive and incapable of carrying a feature-back workload.
Both Blount and Bell have the size and frame to take the bulk of carries. Now that they are likely to face some sort of disciplinary action, the onus will fall on star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to carry the offense yet again—at least at the beginning of the 2014 NFL season.