The Cincinnati Bengals might not be the only team playing with a suspended superstar when they face their AFC North Division rival Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 2.
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ESPN’s Dan Graziano is reporting that Pittsburgh running back Le’Veon Bell is facing a four-game suspension for missing a drug test.
If Bell is disciplined, it would mark the second year in a row he started the season on suspension. He was suspended three games in 2015 for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse, although the penalty eventually was reduced to two games.
Pittsburgh already will be without wide receiver Martavis Bryant for at least the entire 2016 season for his violation the league’s substance-abuse policy, which also stemmed from him missing multiple tests, according to his agent Brian Fettner.
The Bengals will be without linebacker Vontaze Burfict when they travel to Pittsburgh on Sept. 18. Burfict is suspended for the first three games of the 2016 season for repeated violations of the player-safety rules, with the last offense coming in the wild-card loss to Pittsburgh when he drew a personal foul for a blow to the head of Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown in the closing seconds.
While losing Bell would be a hit to the Pittsburgh offense, backup DeAngelo Williams rushed for 907 yards and 11 touchdowns last year after Bell suffered a season-ending knee injury on a tackle by Burfict in Week 8. That was the game in which Bell said the Bengals intentionally tried to hurt him after his 2014 season also ended with a knee injury on a hit by Bengals safety Reggie Nelson in the regular-season finale.
The Steelers beat the Bengals twice with Bell sidelined, 33-20 in a regular-season game at Paul Brown Stadium on Dec. 13, and 18-16 in the playoff game when Pittsburgh also was without Williams.