PITTSBURGH (AP) _ Le’Veon Bell will head back to work a little earlier than the NFL originally planned.
The league reduced the suspension against the Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro running back from three games to two on Tuesday, leaving him eligible to play when the Steelers travel to St. Louis on Sept. 27.
The league initially suspended Bell for the first three games of the 2015 season as part of the fallout from his arrest in August 2014 on DUI and drug charges.
The announcement came the same day the league upheld a four-game suspension against New England quarterback Tom Brady for his role in using underinflated footballs during the AFC championship win over Indianapolis
Bell was arrested last August following a traffic stop along with then-teammate LeGarrette Blount. The 23-year-old All-Pro ended up pleading no contest and was sentenced to 15 months of probation and entered into a diversion program.
“Whatever the consequence is, I’m just going to take it and move forward,” Bell said on Saturday as the Steelers arrived for training camp.
Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert reiterated the team’s disappointment in Bell’s actions, but is optimistic Bell will avoid trouble in the future.
“He must learn from his mistake and focus on eliminating distractions from his life,” Colbert said in a statement on Tuesday. “We look forward to continuing to work with Le’Veon to try to help him reach his full potential as a person and as a player.”
Blount, now a running back with New England, received a one-game suspension from the league and will miss the opener when Pittsburgh visits the Patriots.
Bell and Blount were arrested Aug. 20, 2014, 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 was released from the Steelers last November after complaining about insufficient playing time and walking off the field early in a loss to Tennessee. He signed with the Patriots days later and won a Super Bowl ring in February.
As part of Bell’s plea deal he agreed to have a drug and alcohol evaluation, follow any recommended treatment and spend 12 hours one weekend at a safety school for those charged with drunken driving.
The Steelers signed veteran DeAngelo Williams in the offseason as an experienced backup hoping he will take some of the workload off Bell, who was second in the league in 2014 in yards from scrimmage and caught 82 passes, smashing the team record for most receptions in season by a running back.
Pittsburgh is 0-4 in games Bell has missed since taking him in the second round of the 2013 draft, including a wild-card loss to Baltimore last season after Bell hyperextended his right knee in the regular-season finale against Cincinnati.
Bell said last Saturday the knee is “100 percent” and is anxious to put an ugly chapter in his career behind him.
“I just want to make sure I do everything in my power to be a better teammate,” he said.