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Le'Veon Bell suspension would leave Steelers feeble

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Few players in the NFL were more productive last season than Le'Veon Bell. There are surely Steelers fans who will point to Bell's late-season knee injury as the only thing that kept a cresting Pittsburgh team from making a Super Bowl run.

We learned Thursday that the Steelers will likely be forced to continue without Bell when a new season begins. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Bell is facing a three-game suspension and a fine of an additional game check connected to a DUI arrest and marijuana possession charge last summer. Bell's absence will be temporary, but it still leaves the Steelers in a vulnerable position come September.

The Steelers will now ask more of DeAngelo Williams, the former Panthers running back who signed a two-year deal last month. Williams had his moments during his time in Carolina, but he'll turn 32 in two weeks and missed a majority of last season with injuries to his hamstring, ankle and hand.

As the depth chart currently stands, Williams would be backed up by Dri Archer, a diminutive gadget player not built for excessive use. It wouldn't be a bad idea for the Steelers to add another rusher as insurance.

We'll find out soon if the schedule does the Steelers any favors in September. One scenario to watch: The Steelers are on the Patriots' home schedule, and a showdown of AFC heavyweights is an appetizing option for the annual Thursday night kickoff game played in the house of the reigning Super Bowl champion.

Before Thursday's news, the Steelers probably would have loved to be part of that high-profile event. Now? A Tom Brady rain check might be preferred.

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