Steelers notebook: Bell, Blount play despite drug case


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PHILADELPHIA -- Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount each played Thursday night in a preseason loss to the Philadelphia Eagles despite being stopped and charged with marijuana possession a day earlier in Ross.

Bell was also charged with driving under the influence of marijuana. Blount was a passenger in Bell's black Camaro.

Coach Mike Tomlin said he "didn't consider it a punishment to send them home. I'd rather have them play more."

Bell, who started and carried nine times for 23 yards, began his postgame comments by saying, "I'm sorry to be a distraction to the team." Then he added, "I'm only going to answer football questions right now."

Bell, though, said he "most definitely" was glad he got to play against the Eagles.

Blount, who rushed seven times for 32 yards, said after the game: "I'm sorry for the distraction I caused my team. I apologized to the team and the coaches."

When he was asked another question about the marijuana incident, Blount said. "I'm only going to answer questions about the football game."

The Steelers elected to play both players against the Eagles and delay any type of disciplinary measures until the legal matter is resolved. The Steelers did not want to issue any discipline before the matter was resolved because a second punishment or suspension later could lead to a grievance from the NFL Players Association.

What defense?

The Eagles so easily shredded the Steelers defense that their high-energy attack generated 482 yards and 36 first downs.

That is three more first downs than the Steelers surrendered to the New England Patriots (33) last season when they set club records for yards allowed (610) and points allowed (55) in a game.

"Playing defense is very simple," Tomlin said. "There's not enough guys coming off blocks and making tackles."

Next: A deal with Allen?

After extending the contract of right tackle Marcus Gilbert this week, the Steelers have talked to cornerback Cortez Allen about a new deal. Allen is will be an unrestricted free agent after the season and signing him to a contract extension would appear to be something of a priority. This is expected to be Ike Taylor's last season after taking a $4.5 million pay cut. And, as of right now, the Steelers don't have a starter-in-waiting.

Enforcing the rules

Officials are using the preseason games to enforce the rules regarding offensive pass interference and illegal defensive contact downfield, and the result is a disturbing rash of penalties.

A total of 27 penalties for 202 yards were enforced against both teams -- 14 penalties for 104 yards in the second half alone. That is more than the number of penalties in each of the first two preseason games. Fifteen penalties for 143 yards were enforced in the game against the New York Giants and 18 penalties for 141 yards were enforced in the game against the Buffalo Bills.

"It was an ugly game to look at at home," Tomlin said. "We haven't been penalized like that to this point."

Heyward-Bey displays speed

Darrius Heyward-Bey, the seventh overall pick in the 2009 draft, finally showed some of his deep speed when he caught a 33-yard touchdown in the back of the end zone from Bruce Gradkowski in the fourth quarter.

It was Heyward-Bey's first catch of the preseason, but he showed good boundary awareness when he made a nice move to keep both feet in bounds. Heyward-Bey finished with three catches for 54 yards.

Rooney's name on trophy

Steelers chairman Dan Rooney will return to Ireland next week to attend Penn State's opening game Aug. 30 against Central Florida in Dublin. But Rooney, the former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, will be more than just a spectator. The inaugural trophy that will be awarded to the winning team will be named after Rooney.

Quick hits

• Defensive end Brett Keisel, who signed a two-year contract Wednesday to return for his 13th season with the Steelers, was in uniform but did not play against the Eagles.

• Outside linebacker Jason Worilds (right knee) and inside linebacker Sean Spence (right knee) were injured in the third and did not return.

• After missing just two field goals all of last season, Shaun Suisham missed his second field goal this preseason when he yanked a 46-yard attempt in the second.

• Players scratched before the game because of injuries: wide receiver Lance Moore, safety Will Allen, fullback Will Johnson, long snapper Greg Warren, inside linebacker Jordan Zumwalt, running back Tauren Poole, tight end Eric Waters and cornerbacks Shaq Richardson and Devin Smith.

Gerry Dulac: gdulac@post-gazette.com and Twitter @gerrydulac.


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