Le'Veon Bell plans to appeal suspension in August

Le'Veon Bell is facing a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy via missed drug tests, and the Steelers running back is planning his defense.

Bell told the media Thursday he plans to appeal the suspension "sometime in August" and that he was notified of a missed test and his suspension in March, according to Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin confirmed that Bell's appeal will not be heard until the second week of August.

"I don't want to be a distraction to my teammates or to Steelers Nation," Bell added. "So I'm just going to keep moving forward and let everything handle itself."

The appeals process is bound to interrupt Bell's rehab from his season-ending knee injury, but the running back added he was confident that he'd be ready for the start of the season, whether or not he's suspended.

The four-game ban, which NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported last Friday, is Bell's second in two years; he had a three-game suspension for violating the NFL's Policy and Program on Substances of Abuse reduced to two games in 2015. Per Rapoport, Bell will have the opportunity to explain why he missed the test, but the NFL's policies are so stringent that there might not be much wiggle room.

Last year, the Steelers went 7-3 in the 10 games Bell missed. He rushed for 556 yards and three touchdowns over six games last year. His 2014 season -- 1,361 rushing yards, eight rushing touchdowns, 83 receptions for 854 yards and three touchdowns -- stands as the benchmark of his potential.

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