A pair of Pittsburgh Steelers running backs were officially charged with drug possession on Thursday, a day after they were pulled over and arrested, and just hours before playing in a preseason game.
Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount were charged with possession of marijuana, and Bell also was charged with DUI (marijuana), the Ross Township (Pa.) Police Department announced in a news release Wednesday.
Ross Township detective Brian Kohlhepp said traffic officer Sean Stafiej pulled over a Camaro operated by Bell around 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday after Stafiej, who was on a motorcycle, noticed a strong odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle.
Stafiej found a 20-gram bag of marijuana inside the car. Bell, Blount and a female passenger all claimed ownership of the marijuana, according to police.
Bell, Blount and the female passenger were arrested and released, though Bell, 22, also had blood drawn at a hospital. All three are expected to receive notice of formal charges through the mail, said Kohlhepp. The possession and DUI charges are both misdemeanors.
Police on Thursday also identified the female passenger as 21-year-old Mercedes Dollson of California.
Bell and Blount played in the Steelers’ preseason game against the Eagles on Thursday, a 31-21 loss in Philadelphia. Blount had 32 yards on seven carries, Bell had 23 yards on nine carries. Neither player scored.
"I’m sorry to be a distraction to the team, but I’m only going to answer football questions now," Bell told reporters after the game.
Blount also would only answer football questions.
"I just want to apologize to my team, to the coach and the organization for causing that distraction," he said.
Bell set a franchise record for total yards by a rookie running back last season, smashing the mark set by Hall of Famer Franco Harris.
The second-round pick out of Michigan State ran for 860 yards and eight touchdowns and caught 45 passes for 399 yards despite missing the first three games of the season with a foot injury.
Pittsburgh plans to use Bell and Blount, signed as a free agent this offseason, as a one-two punch, with the burly 27-year-old Blount expected to be featured heavily in short-yardage situations. The Steelers finished tied for 27th in the league with 1,383 yards rushing in 2013 on their way to an 8-8 record.