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NFL notebook: Steelers RB Bell reportedly suspended three games

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Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell reportedly has been suspended three games and fined a game check for a fourth for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.

ESPN reported Bell will immediately appeal the ruling, which had not been announced by the league.

Bell’s punishment stems from a DUI and marijuana possession arrest last summer.

Bell entered a guilty plea in February and was given 15 months’ probation for the incident. Former Steelers running back LeGarrette Blount, who was a passenger, was suspended one game for marijuana possession.

Bell, 23, was a second-round pick in 2013 and became the anchor of the Steelers’ offense in 2014, when he scored 11 touchdowns, gained 2,215 yards from scrimmage and was named All-Pro.

—The Indianapolis Colts exercised the fifth-year option on quarterback Andrew Luck’s rookie contract.

The move keeps the 2012 No. 1 overall draft pick under contract through the 2016 season. The $16.155 million option is guaranteed for injury until the start of the 2016 league year, when it will become fully guaranteed.

The move was expected, as Colts owner Jim Irsay said last month that he did not plan to give Luck a contract extension until next year.

Speaking at the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix on March 23, Irsay said the team has had conversations with Luck’s agent but is in no hurry to make a deal.

“Andrew still has two years left, and whatever our talks are between Andrew and his people will remain confidential,” Irsay said. “I really think most likely the scenario is going into the offseason next year is when that second contract will come up. That’s the vision I have right now.”

—The Pittsburgh Steelers exercised the fifth-year option on guard David DeCastro.

The 24th overall pick in the 2012 draft will remain under contract through 2016 and will be paid the average of the Nos. 3-25 players at his position.

The deadline for teams to pick up 2016 options on 2012 first-rounders is May 3.

—Longtime Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman signed a one-year contract with the Carolina Panthers and could be used at safety.

Coach Ron Rivera has known Tillman for more than a decade — he was defensive coordinator in Chicago from 2004 to 2006.

Each of the past two seasons ended with Tillman on injured reserve, including a season-ending triceps tear in Week 2 last season. He also tore his triceps in 2013.

The 34-year-old veteran had spent his entire 12-year career with the Bears and produced 856 tackles, 36 interceptions and eight touchdowns.

—Eight nationally televised games highlight the 2015 NFL preseason schedule released Thursday.

Three games will be televised the second week, with ESPN airing the Buffalo Bills at Cleveland Browns on Aug. 20, FOX showing the St. Louis Rams at the Tennessee Titans on Aug. 23 and ESPN broadcasting the Cincinnati Bengals at Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Aug. 24.

In Week 3, CBS will televise the Detroit Lions at Jacksonville Jaguars on Aug. 28 and the Seattle Seahawks at San Diego Chargers on Aug. 29. FOX will air the Houston Texans at New Orleans Saints on Aug. 30, and NBC will present the Arizona Cardinals at Oakland Raiders on Aug. 30.

As previously announced, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings will play in the Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 9, televised on NBC.

Dates and times of all games will be revealed along with the regular schedule later this month.

—Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett says he never asked for a trade to Atlanta, and he still thinks tight end Jimmy Graham is soft.

A report last month indicated Bennett was unhappy with his contract and wanted to be dealt to the Falcons, who are now coached by former Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.

On Thursday, Bennett told 710 ESPN Seattle he never asked for a trade. “They made rumors about Jesus. They’ll make rumors about anybody,” he said.

In another interview Thursday, Bennett admitted he is unhappy with his contract but said, “I don’t know anybody that is happy with the amount of money they’re making. At this point, I’m just trying to be a good Seahawk.”

He was asked about Graham, the new teammate Bennett called “soft” and “overrated” after Seattle beat the New Orleans Saints in a playoff game in January 2014.

“I still feel the same way. I mean, just because he’s on my team I don’t stop feeling that way,” Bennett said. “Obviously I’m going to be a better teammate to him because he’s on my team. I can’t do the things I was doing to him when we were playing him. When he comes to our team, he’s a part of our team.”

—The Cleveland Browns signed tight end Rob Housler to a one-year contract.

Housler, 27, caught just nine passes last season after appearing to enjoy a breakout 2013 campaign in which he caught 39 passes. The Browns’ tight end depth chart took a serious hit when Jordan Cameron signed with the Miami Dolphins. The only other tight ends on the current roster are Gary Barnidge and Jim Dray, who are both known more for their blocking skills.

A third-round pick out of Florida Atlantic in 2011, Housler has caught 105 passes for 1,133 yards and a touchdown during four NFL seasons.

—The Cincinnati Bengals re-signed running back Cedric Peerman.

A sixth-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens in 2009, Peerman joined the Bengals in 2010 and has been one of the Bengals’ top special-teams players. He led the units with 15 tackles last season and has averaged 12 over the past four years.

He has been used sparingly on offense, rushing for 334 yards and one touchdown and catching 13 passes for 123 yards in five years.

—Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman Jah Reid agreed to a one-year deal.

Reid, drafted in the third round by the Ravens in 2011, plays guard and tackle.

Injuries have held Reid back, including back and hamstring injuries in 2014, when he was active for only four games.

—The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed linebacker Larry Dean and center Ben Gottschalk.

Dean is entering his fifth NFL season. He played for the Minnesota Vikings (2011-13) and Buffalo Bills (2014). Dean entered the NFL as a college free agent out of Valdosta State.

Gottschalk (6-5, 293) was a college free agent out of SMU and spent the 2014 offseason and preseason with the Kansas City Chiefs. He was also on the team’s practice squad during Week 1.


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