The Pittsburgh Steelers are remaining quiet on the status of their two top running backs, LeGarrette Blount and Le'Veon Bell. The two running backs were arrested on marijuana and DUI charges and now face an uncertain future for the season ahead. That could spell trouble for the Steelers who were counting on the one-two punch in the ground game Head coach Mike Tomlin would only tell media that both Bell and Blount are expected to play in the final preseason game for Pittsburgh.
Both Bell and Blount are coming off successful seasons. Bell led the Steelers ground game as a rookie, putting up 860 yards and eight touchdowns while also having 399 yards receiving. Blount is coming off a strong season with the New England Patriots, putting up 772 yards and seven touchdowns in the three-man rotation. The Steelers were hoping to mix the versatility of Bell with the downhill style of Blount for an effective run game, but the recent arrests could complicate that.
Tomlin told media that both players were to play in the final preseason game and assured reporters that discipline was in place. However, that does not appear to include a suspension. The Steelers are very aware that suspending both Bell and Blount would cripple their roster. Behind the two running backs is a slew of unknowns which include all rookies. According to the NFL's Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Steelers cannot ban their own players on such arrests which saves the team for now. However, the NFL has yet to make a ruling on a type of discipline which could include suspension.
"Like I told this group yesterday, that's our business. It won't come from me. I won't talk in great detail about, you know, what we laid down in regards to dealing with the situation, but just rest assured that we deal with unfortunate situations in an appropriate manner," Tomlin said, via Pittsburgh's Action News 4. "Hopefully those two guys will show what's capable in terms of moving past it."
Presumably, both running backs will play Week 1 so fantasy owners should plan accordingly. The Steelers will not hold out either back if they absolutely do not have to. Putting both backs on the field against the Carolina Panthers is a good indication that they will be active for the first game. Bell is expected to get the majority of the carries this season while Blount comes in for goal line and short-yardage situations.
If both backs end up missing time this season, the wide receiver group will have to step up along with tight end Heath miller. The Steelers drafted Martavis Bryant to help with depth as both Antonio Brown and Lance moore are expected to lead the group this year.