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Steelers RB Bell doesn’t want to be ‘distraction’ as possible suspension looms | TribLIVE.com
Steelers/NFL

Steelers RB Bell doesn’t want to be ‘distraction’ as possible suspension looms

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Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers receiver Markus Wheaton carries his bags to training camp Thursday, July 28, 2016, at St. Vincent in Latrobe.
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Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell speaks to the media after showing up to training camp Thursday, July 28, 2016, at St. Vincent in Latrobe.
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Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell speaks to the media after showing up to training camp Thursday, July 28, 2016, at St. Vincent in Latrobe.
ptrsteelers30072916
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell speaks to the media after showing up to training camp Thursday, July 28, 2016, at St. Vincent in Latrobe.
ptrsteelers31072916
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell speaks to the media after showing up to training camp Thursday, July 28, 2016, at St. Vincent in Latrobe.
ptrsteelers29072916
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell speaks to the media after showing up to training camp Thursday, July 28, 2016, at St. Vincent in Latrobe.
ptrsteelers32072916
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell speaks to the media after showing up to training camp Thursday, July 28, 2016, at St. Vincent in Latrobe.

Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell all but guaranteed he won’t miss games for violating the NFL’s drug policy.

“Trust me,” Bell said.

“I’m gonna win the appeal,” he later added, along with “(people) have no idea what happened.”

Well, Bell said that earlier in the week on social media.

Standing in front of reporters Thursday at St. Vincent College on the first day of Steelers training camp, Bell didn’t say much about his impending four-game suspension, including what happened.

“I have to handle it for what it is and keep moving forward,” Bell said. “I don’t want to be a distraction to my teammates and Steelers Nation, so I am going to move forward and let everything else handle itself.”

Bell faces his second suspension in as many seasons for reportedly missing multiple drug tests. A missed test is considered a failed test by the NFL.

Bell was in Stage 2 of the NFL’s drug program after being charged with possession of marijuana and DUI after a traffic stop in August 2014 with former teammate LeGarrette Blount.

It was reported Bell missed the tests because he changed his cellphone number and did not notify the league, which is Bell’s responsibility.

“I am sure people think a certain way about me, feel a certain way about me, and that’s understandable,” Bell said. “I can only control what I can control, and there’s not much that I can control. It’s out of my control now.”

Bell was scheduled to have his appeal heard in early August, but coach Mike Tomlin said the hearing was pushed back until the middle of the month.

“I don’t have anything of any significance to add to his circumstances or situation,” Tomlin said.

“He is in the appeal process, so me adding anything to it is not going to help the matter in any way whatsoever. I will simply let the process play its way out and make any necessary comments regarding his circumstances and how it may affect us after we get some resolution from that standpoint.

“Anything other than that is speculation, and I am not in the speculation business.”

It was rumored in early June that Bell faced a suspension for missing a drug test. Bell, who attended only the first voluntary spring practice, denied failing or missing any drug tests when asked during mandatory minicamp in mid-June.

On Thursday, Bell said he was notified of his suspension in March.

“I know what I said and said what I said, but I am going to let the appeal process handle itself,” Bell said.

The NFL has drawn a hard line on missed drug tests. According to the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse, if the failure to appear is determined to have been a deliberate effort to avoid testing, it will be considered a violation.

If it isn’t deemed deliberate, a player would have to miss three tests before being suspended for four games.

“Obviously, taking him away (stinks),” guard David DeCastro said. “He is a talented player. To lose guys and not have them is frustrating. Then again, we are used to it, sadly.”

In March, Martavis Bryant was suspended for the season for violating the drug policy. He also missed the first four games last year for failing a drug test.

“It would be frustrating, but we don’t know yet,” receiver Markus Wheaton said about Bell. “It (stinks) to hear that, but we will see what happens.”

Bell is coming off knee surgery in November but is expected to be ready for the regular season. DeAngelo Williams, who rushed for 907 yards last year, would take over as the starting running back if Bell’s suspension is upheld.

Bell’s knee is healthy only nine months after surgery. He took part in the run test, and Tomlin decided not to place him on the physically unable to perform list. Bell will take part in practice Friday.

Tomlin said he will monitor Bell during the early stages of training camp and likely limit his workload until his knee is fully healed.

“I was trying to find a silver lining to all of this, and obviously, you are going to miss a special player like that, but maybe it will help with his knee — give him a little extra time after going through something like that with the knee surgery,” DeCastro said.

Mark Kaboly is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib.

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