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Team Report - PITTSBURGH STEELERS

The SportsXchange

INSIDE SLANT

Steelers seemingly having multiple problems

The Pittsburgh Steelers may be in more trouble than even their Cheech & Chong running mates of Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount.

They have problems on the field on the other side of the ball too, on defense. The Steelers have been counting on a mix of rookies, young players and a few aging veterans to springboard their defense into a reformation period. The Philadelphia Eagles made them look as if much more work - and perhaps talent - needs to take hold.

Philadelphia scored all 31 of its points Thursday night against the first-team defense; even the second-team Eagles offense led by quarterback Mark Sanchez marched for two touchdowns in the third quarter against the top Steelers defense.

"I think everybody's pissed off," defensive end Cam Heyward said. "If you're not pissed off, you shouldn't be on this team. There is a big level of disappointment."

Might Thursday's play against the Eagles be an indication of what is to come for the once-proud Steelers defense this season?

"It better not be or we have a long season ahead of us," Heyward said.

As for halfbacks Bell and Blount and the charges levied against them in suburban Pittsburgh for marijuana possession, the Steelers are not expected to take any drastic action. They will allow the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell determine any disciplinary measures, which often do not occur until the following season. In typical cases such as theirs, Goodell has issued a one-game suspension.

Coach Mike Tomlin and the Steelers' hierarchy were upset particularly with the absurdity and stupidity of it: two players caught with marijuana use on their way to catch the team's chartered flight to Philadelphia early in the afternoon.

"They'll be dealt with appropriately," said Tomlin, who played them both in Philadelphia because he said he did not view it as punishment to send them home for a preseason game.

The Steelers cannot afford to lose both, especially Bell, who is expected to be their horse and a big part of their no-huddle offense. They have no other halfbacks with any NFL carries to their credit.

"I'm sorry to be a distraction to the team," is all Bell said.

Meanwhile, details from the criminal complaint against the two players emerged on Friday. According to the complaint obtained by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, when a Ross Township police officer motorcycle cop told Bell that he could be facing a DUI charge after he allegedly admitted smoking the marijuana police found in the car he was driving, the Steelers' running back seemed puzzled.

"I didn't know that you could get a DUI for being high. I smoked two hours ago," the complaint quoted the 22-year-old Bell as saying. "I am not high anymore. I am perfectly fine. Why would I be getting high if I had to get on a plane to make it to my game?"

Officer Sean Stafiej asked Bell where he was headed.

"I have to be on my plane at 3 to be in Philadelphia," Bell said. "I play for the Steelers."

Bell and the 27-year-old Blount, who is in his first season with the team, as well as a 21-year-old woman passenger from California, were cited for misdemeanor possession of 30 or fewer grams of marijuana after Stafiej stopped them after he noticed a "strong odor of marijuana" coming out of the driver's side window when he pulled up next to the Chevrolet Camaro.

Bell also was charged with driving under the influence of marijuana after a blood test at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Passavant, Ross Township Police detective Brian Kohlhepp said. Both charges are misdemeanors.

A preliminary court date has not yet been determined.

Bell initially told the officer there was no marijuana in the car, but when asked if they had smoked any, he replied: "It was about a minute ago," before clarifying that it could have been within the previous two hours.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Safety Troy Polamalu was upset and made that obvious through his animations as the Eagles first and second offenses cranked out 31 points and moved the ball at will against the Steelers' top defense through nearly three quarters Thursday. Saturday, he explained why.

"We're lucky last week wasn't Week 1," Polamalu said of the Steelers' regular-season opener against Cleveland. "Hopefully, that's not a telling story of how we'll be this year."

--The Steelers will not make any cuts until at least Sunday, when the players have off. They resume practice on Monday. The team watched video and had meetings Saturday, but there was no practice.

--The Steelers and Eagles had 27 penalties for 202 yards marched off against them and head coach Mike Tomlin was not happy about all the flags.

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

BATTLE OF THE WEEK: With the re-signing of Brett Keisel for his 13th season with the Steelers, a new battlefront opened up in the competition leading up to the regular-season opener, at defensive end. Keisel started at right defensive end the past nine seasons and he wants to regain that job. Cam Heyward holds down that position now, but he can easily move to the left side, where he started some last season after he bumped Ziggy Hood from his job. Cam Thomas, signed as a free agent from San Diego this year, has been starting at left defensive end, competing with rookie Stephon Tuitt. Will Keisel start? No one is counting him out.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

PLAYER NOTES

--CB Cortez Allen, entering his second year as a starter, also enters the fourth and final year of his rookie contract. The Steelers are negotiating to possibly extend him with their self-imposed deadline approaching for the start of the regular season.

--DE Cam Heyward, who left Thursday night's game with an ankle injury, should be OK to play for the opener.

--LB Sean Spence, who has a PCL sprain, might have to open the season on the short-term injured reserve list.

--LS Greg Warren had surgery to repair a torn meniscus and will miss at least the first two regular-season games. It means the Steelers either must carry an extra snapper on their 53-man roster or reach an injury settlement with Warren.

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