This Thursday turned out to be a much bigger day around the AFC North than might have anticipated in the morning, and most of the focus centered around the Pittsburgh Steelers, who got some news about a couple of their players, which I will address in more detail in separate topics.
The first news of the day, of course, was the league’s announcement of their discipline for Le’Veon Bell, a day after announcing that LeGarrette Blount would be suspended for the opening game of the season.
Bell and Blount were involved in the same incident, but Bell was also charged with a DUI, as he was behind the wheel of the vehicle that the two occupied. According to the league, this infraction was worth a three-game suspension, as well as the forfeiture of an additional game check.
Concurrent with the revelation of the suspension was also the news that the Steelers and Bell had appealed, which I think is a no brainer. Frankly, I would be kind of surprised if the suspension holds up as is, as it seems incongruous with past infractions. No doubt the NFLPA may have something to say about it.
The other big news in Steelers community was, of course, the announcement that safety Troy Polamalu intended to retire are 12 seasons that included eight trips to the Pro Bowl and two national championships.
This is not the venue to properly express the impact that Polamalu has had not just on his organization, but on his broader fan base, with the Steelers, around the league, and even outside of the sport. He will be missed, but this decision may prove to be best for all parties involved.
The plan now is, of course, to move forward with Shamarko Thomas entering the starting lineup, but we will see how the Steelers handle the position going forward, as they had already planned on being without Polamalu.
Elsewhere in the division, the Cleveland Browns won the Rob Housler sweepstakes, signing the tight end to a new contract after both the Baltimore Ravens and the Cincinnati Bengals had previously expressed interest in the free agent.
As for the Bengals, after free agent running back Cedric Peerman recently took a visit with the Eagles, Cincinnati evidently woke up and realized that they still wanted him, inking him to a new deal. The same thing happened with Brandon Tate.
In draft visit news, the headliner within the division, in my opinion, was the Steelers scheduling a visit with cornerback Marcus Peters, who recently visited with the Ravens as well. Peters has had some issues, and was kicked off his team after conflicts with his coach, but his talent may be undeniable, and the ultimate deciding factor.
Also of note was the release of the preseason schedules, with the Steelers of course playing five exhibition games this year with the Hall of Fame game. The Steelers don’t play any division opponents, but they will play the Vikings, Jaguars, Packers, Bills, and Panthers.