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Bell, Blount play, then apologize

PHILADELPHIA -- Pittsburgh Steelers running backs Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount apologized Thursday night but said nothing about the charges each faces for marijuana possession.

Bell and Blount, who were stopped Wednesday afternoon after a Ross Township police officer smelled marijuana coming from the Camaro that Bell was driving, played extensively in the Steelers' 31-21 loss to the Eagles.

They drew crowds at their respective lockers in the cramped visiting quarters at Lincoln Financial Field after the Steelers turned in a performance that coach Mike Tomlin called "unacceptable."

"I'm sorry for the distraction that I caused my team," said Blount, who led the Steelers with 32 rushing yards on seven carries. "I just want to apologize to my team and my coach and my organization for causing that distraction."

Asked whether he has told Tomlin and Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert that he won't let it happen again, Blount said, "I'm going to answer some questions about the game tonight. That's about it until further notice."

Bell, Blount and a female passenger were stopped Wednesday afternoon and a 20-gram bag of marijuana was found inside Bell's car, Ross Township detective Brian Kohlhepp said. Bell was taken to a hospital for a blood test and also will face a charge for driving under the influence of marijuana, Kohlhepp said.

The incident happened less than two hours before the Steelers flew to Philadelphia, and Bell reportedly had to find his own way here.

Tomlin opened himself up to criticism by playing Bell and Blount in the final preseason game in which the regulars see extended duty. The eighth-year coach, however, didn't give serious consideration to not playing Bell and Blount.

"I didn't view it as punishment to send them home, to not play in this preseason game," Tomlin said. "I'd rather play them more than anticipated than to remove them from the game, so that's why we took the stance we took tonight. Obviously we've got some things to do regarding the matter moving forward but not a lot to say at this point in time."

The NFL is expected to review the incident, and each player is subject to a one- to four-game suspension that likely wouldn't happen until next season.

Bell is entering his second season after breaking Franco Harris' Steelers rookie record for yards from scrimmage with 1,259. The Steelers signed Blount in March to pair with Bell, and the two received all 16 of the Steelers' carries against the Eagles.

Bell rushed for 23 yards on nine carries. He later apologized for causing a distraction but declined to answer any questions that didn't pertain to football.

The Steelers regressed after beating the Buffalo Bills on Saturday night.

They were outgained by almost 200 yards and only a couple of late touchdowns made the final score respectable.

Asked whether the arrests of Blount and Bell led to any distractions on the field, Tomlin said, "What happened yesterday had nothing to do with our performance tonight. We're not going to make an excuse for that performance. We're going to own that."

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