The Steelers wasted little time in getting rid of LeGarrette Blount, releasing the veteran running back less than 24 hours after he left the field before the end of Pittsburgh's victory Monday against the Titans.
"We believe the decision to release LeGarrette is in the best interest of the organization and wish him the best of luck," coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday afternoon in a statement released by the Steelers.
According to media reports, Steelers defensive assistant Joey Porter saw Blount leaving early Monday night for the team bus and called him back into the locker room several times. Blount went back in briefly but left again before his teammates had begun postgame interviews.
"If you don't want to be here, don't be here," Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey told reporters Tuesday. "He had a decision to make as a man, and he made it. You know the consequences."
Safety Mike Mitchell defended Blount's character but said the running back didn't handle the situation properly.
"I actually know him, and a lot of people don't know him. He is not a selfish guy at all," Mitchell said. "He is a competitive guy who wants to be on the field, wants to win games, wants to help us win games. It's a bad perception I think he gets a lot of times, but he has to be smarter in that situation."
Blount, who signed a two-year, $3.85 million contract with the Steelers in March, played only a couple of snaps against the Titans. He did not receive a carry in a game for the first time this season as the Steelers leaned heavily on Le'Veon Bell, who rushed for a career-high 204 yards and a touchdown on 33 carries.
Blount rushed for 266 yards and two touchdowns in 11 games with the Steelers, but his role in the offense decreased as Bell emerged as one of the top running backs in the NFL.
There are a handful of veteran free-agent running backs eligible to be signed to fill the void left by Blount's release.
Blount had been with his fourth team in five NFL seasons, and he missed most of his senior season at Oregon for punching an opposing player.
Blount and Bell were arrested in August for misdemeanor marijuana possession after they were pulled over on the way to Pittsburgh International Airport for a team flight to Philadelphia for a preseason game.
Bell was also charged with driving under the influence, and Tomlin said the two would be punished internally. The eighth-year coach never disclosed how he punished the two running backs, and neither Bell nor Blount missed any playing time.
Only Blount's $950,000 signing bonus was guaranteed. He will count for only $475,000 against the Steelers' salary cap in 2015.