The Pittsburgh Steelers currently possess one of the best running backs in the NFL in the form of Le'Veon Bell. The 22-year-old enjoyed a breakout year in 2014, and fans of the franchise will be hoping the rising star can reproduce in 2015.
Unfortunately though, for both the Steelers and Bell, a misdemeanour off the field could force the player to wait to make his mark on the upcoming campaign.
Currently serving 15 months probation for a marijuana charge, Bell is facing the prospect of being suspended by the NFL under the new substance-abuse policy. The Steelers front office is clearly taking the threat seriously too, with GM Kevin Colbert admitting that the team are preparing for the scenario.
On the one hand some Steelers fans will take comfort in the fact that their team won't be caught off guard should the NFL deem Bell's mis-step worthy of a suspension.
Others though, having hoped Bell would avoid any on the field discipline for an issue that arose way back in August 2014, will be worried to hear their General Manager admitting that a suspension could be heading Bell's way. Especially after watching a Bell-less Steelers crash out of the playoffs against the Ravens.
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Various reports have suggested that Bell will likely be suspended for the first two games of next season and, with the running back watching from the sidelines, the franchise must have another option in place come game time.
With late acquisition Ben Tate heading for free agency and Dri Archer only one season into his NFL career the Steelers must surely look to free agency (or re-sign Tate) if only to ensure they don't slip off the pace in the early stages of the 2015 season.
Bell was integral to the Steelers' offense last season - perhaps only the Cowboys' Dez Bryant has a more pivotal role - and his number show why a Plan B may not be enough should a suspension be handed out.
He had 1,361 rushing yards, 854 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns last season as Pittsburgh's only viable option at the running back spot.
The Pittsburgh Steelers cannot wait on ifs and buts from the NFL decision makers, they must take action and find a back up for Le'Veon Bell when free agency opens in March.
What do you think Steelers fans? Is Bell deserving of a suspension, and who should be given the opportunity at RB if he does miss game time? Let us know in the comments section below...
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