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Tomlin: 'Everything on table' for Bell, Blount punishment

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Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Steelers running backs Le'Veon Bell (left) and LeGarrette Blount warm up before a preseason game against the Eagles on Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014, at Lincoln Financial Field.

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By Alan Robinson
Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, 5:51 p.m.
 

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.

Bell and Blount face NFL disciplinary action under the league's substance abuse policy after being charged with marijuana-related offenses last week, but the league often doesn't act for months.

While the Steelers could choose to wait for the NFL's labor agreement-mandated disciplinary procedure to play out, Tomlin set a precedent for such cases when he held out wide receiver Santonio Holmes for a 2008 game against the Jets. Tomlin didn't suspend Holmes but simply benched him after Holmes was charged with having a small amount of marijuana in his car.

Bell and Blount were charged with marijuana possession, and Bell was charged with DUI (marijuana) after Bell's sports car was stopped in Ross Township on Wednesday afternoon, about 90 minutes before the team plane left for a preseason game in Philadelphia. Both played until well into the second half Thursday, in part because Tomlin said giving them the night off wouldn't be punishment.

While Steelers players insisted the incident was not a distraction, they fell behind the Eagles, 24-0 and 31-7, during a 31-21 loss that represented one of the franchise's worst preseason performances in years.

Tomlin was asked if the Steelers reaffirm their player conduct policy after such incidents.

“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.”

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at arobinson@tribweb.com or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.

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