Le'Veon Bell suspended three games by NFL; RB is appealing ban

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell has been suspended for the first three games of the regular season and fined an additional game check for violating the league's substance abuse policy, league sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Bell is appealing the suspension, the sources said.

In February, Bell received 15 months on probation in a first-offender's program stemming from his arrest last August on marijuana possession and DUI charges with former teammate LeGarrette Blount.

Bell, 22, and Blount, 28, were arrested Aug. 20 after a motorcycle officer in Ross Township, a suburb just north of Pittsburgh, smelled marijuana coming from a vehicle Bell was driving hours before a team flight to a preseason game in Philadelphia.

Blount, who was released last season by the Steelers and subsequently signed with the New England Patriots, was suspended for the 2015 regular-season opener for violating the substance abuse policy.

Blount, who faced only a marijuana possession charge, had that dismissed earlier this year after completing 50 hours of community service.

Bell, 22, was the NFL's second-leading rusher this season, gaining 1,361 yards and scoring eight touchdowns. He also was Pittsburgh's second-leading receiver with 83 catches for 854 yards.

Bell set the Steelers' franchise record with 2,215 yards from scrimmage in 2014, which ranked second overall in the NFL.

Pittsburgh sorely missed Bell in its playoff loss to the Baltimore Ravens, using a platoon of rookie Josh Harris and free agent Ben Tate to replace the injured Pro Bowler, who was sidelined with a knee injury.

The Steelers signed free agent DeAngelo Williams this offseason to complement Bell and the former Carolina Panthers running back likely will be relied on to carry Pittsburgh's rushing attack during Bell's suspension.

In February, ESPN reported that Bell was expected to receive a two-game suspension.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.