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Steelers running backs Bell, Blount will face drug charges

| Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, 8:21 p.m.
Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Steelers running backs Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014, in Latrobe.
Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Steelers running backs Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount practice Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014, at St. Vincent College in Latrobe.
Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Steelers running backs Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount practice Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014, in Latrobe.
Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger hands off to running back Le'Veon Bell against the Bills on Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014, at Heinz Field.

Steelers running backs Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount, pulled over on Wednesday in Ross by a motorcycle officer who smelled marijuana coming from their passing automobile, will be charged with drug possession, township police said.

Bell, 22, also is expected to be charged with driving under the influence of marijuana when officers receive results of a blood test taken after the stop, Ross police Detective Brian Kohlhepp said.

The players and a woman who was in the back seat admitted having possession of a small- to medium-sized bag — estimated to be 20 grams — of suspected marijuana that was found in the glove compartment, Kohlhepp said. The name of the woman was not immediately available.

All three were released from custody and will be sent a summons to appear before a district judge on the misdemeanor charges, Kohlhepp said.

“We are aware of the reports and still gathering information,” Steelers spokesman Burt Lauten said. “We will have no further comment at this time.”

The Steelers play at Philadelphia at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

Bell, Blount and the woman were pulled over about 1:30 p.m. by Officer Sean Stafiej, who was traveling north on McKnight Road when he smelled “the odor of marijuana coming from a black Camaro operated by Le'Veon Bell,” Kohlhepp said.

The car is registered to Bell, the detective said. Blount, 27, was in the front passenger seat.

Stafiej immediately pulled over the car in the Pool City parking lot, and Bell was taken to UPMC Passavant hospital for a blood draw, the detective said.

“We anticipate charging all three with possession of marijuana,” Kohlhepp said. “We also anticipate charging Bell with driving under the influence of marijuana.

“All three individuals were polite and cooperative with the police investigation.”

Bell and Blount were pulled over about an hour before the Steelers posted a photo on Twitter of defensive lineman Brett Keisel going through security at Pittsburgh International Airport. The team posted a photo at 4:28 p.m. that it had landed in Philadelphia.

The team's top two running backs could be disciplined under the NFL's substance-abuse policy, which includes penalties for recreational and performance-enhancing drugs.

The policy generally covers players who have failed mandatory drug tests, but players commonly aren't tested for recreational drugs during the season.

Last week, the NFL suspended Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe for the season opener for violating the drug policy, even though a charge of marijuana possession filed against him in November subsequently was dropped.

Bell, a former Michigan State player, was the Steelers' second-round draft pick in 2013 and rushed for 860 yards and caught 45 passes for 399 yards last season. His 1,259 scrimmage yards were the most in team history for a rookie running back.

While Bell is the Steelers' starter — they project him as a runner capable of 1,000-yard rushing and 50-reception seasons — they signed Blount to a $3.85 million, two-year contract to give them another running back option.

The Steelers lacked a reliable backup when the 244-pound Bell missed the first three games of last season with a Lisfranc foot injury, and they produced historically low rushing totals in those games.

Blount, who ran for 166 yards and scored four touchdowns for New England in a divisional playoff game against Indianapolis in January, is a 250-pound power back who is expected to be used in goal-line situations and to give Bell periodic breaks.

Blount has averaged 4.7 yards per carry during his four-season career, highlighted by a 1,007-yard rookie season with Tampa Bay in 2010. His senior season at Oregon included a two-month ban after he punched a Boise State player after a nationally televised game.

The Bell-Blount combination — along with the addition of running back/wide receiver Dri Archer — is expected to give the Steelers multiple running game options, especially out of the no-huddle look.

Bell and Blount often were seen together during training camp, and Bell talked about the close relationship the they formed almost immediately after Blount joined the team.

Michael Hasch and Alan Robinson are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Reach Hasch at 412-320-7820 or at mhasch@tribweb.com and Robinson at arobinson@tribweb.com or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.

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