The Steelers may have to start the season without running back Le’Veon Bell.
Bell is facing a four-game suspension for a missed drug test, Dan Graziano of ESPN reports.
Under the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, players can be disciplined not only if they test positive, but also if they do not make themselves available for a test.
Bell has had limited success appealing a suspension once before: He was initially suspended for the first three games of last season for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy after he was arrested for marijuana possession and DUI, but he appealed and got that suspension reduced to two games.
If Bell doesn’t win this appeal, he’ll miss the first four games of this season, against Washington, Cincinnati, Philadelphia and Kansas City. With Bell out, the Steelers would rely on backup running backs DeAngelo Williams and Fitzgerald Toussaint.
The Steelers have already lost one important offensive player to the substance-abuse policy, as receiver Martavis Bryant is suspended for the entire season.