The Steelers will begin the 2015 season without their top running back.
The NFL has suspended Le’Veon Bell for three games without pay for violating its substance-abuse policy, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported.
Bell has appealed the ruling, ESPN reported. The tailback has also been docked a fourth game check by the league, per Schefter.
If the suspension holds, Bell can take part in preseason games and training camp before serving his ban away from the club.
Bell’s suspension stems from a DUI charge last summer. He was sentenced to probation, and the charge, along with a marijuana possession count, can be removed from his record if he completes 15 months of service. His former Steelers teammate, LeGarrette Blount, has garnered a one-game suspension for the incident.
Bell faced up to a four-game ban, as PFT noted last month. It’s an aspect of the substance-abuse policy that didn’t change when the policy was renegotiated in September, given that Bell’s DUI arose from marijuana use.
Losing Bell for any stretch is a major blow to the Steelers’ offense. The 23-year-old running back emerged as one of the game’s star dual threats at the position in 2014, racking up more than 2,000 rushing-receiving yards.
Ex-Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams figures to have a bigger role with Bell out of the Pittsburgh lineup to begin next season.