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Tomlin on Ben, Harrison & Bell

LATROBE, Pa. – The Steelers are preparing for their second preseason game when they host the Philadelphia Eagles at Heinz Field on Thursday night. And for the second consecutive week Coach Mike Tomlin will sit some of his offensive stars.

Running backs Le'Veon Bell and Le'Veon Bell, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and receiver Antonio Brown will not play.

"These are guys I choose not to play," said Tomlin. "That is my decision. We will see where we are next week with those guys.

"I know what Ben is capable of. I have worked with him for a decade now. He showed up in tremendous condition. He has performed well. He is a veteran. What is required of him to be ready to play might be different than others. My job is to give everybody what it is they need to be ready to go. I just believe the reps are better served given to guys like Landry (Jones) and Dustin (Vaughan). It won't hurt him by not getting them."

Center Maurkice Pouncey, who didn't play last week, will return to the field this week for the first time after missing the entire 2015 season.

  • While who won't play this week was the hot football topic during Tomlin's weekly press conference, potential suspensions were also a hot button item.

The NFL sent a letter to the NFLPA stating it will suspend linebacker William Gay and any other players mentioned in an Al Jazeera America documentary if they don't cooperate with the league and conduct an interview regarding allegations of PED use made in the documentary last December. Harrison has been advised by the NFLPA at this point not to do the interview.

"Nobody wants to be suspended," said Harrison. "When it comes down to it, I want to play. It's certain rules and things they need to go through that they didn't even go through to even start an investigation."

Harrison was asked if he would do the interview if the Steelers persuaded him to, and after a brief pause answered.

"I'll just have to deal with that when the time comes," said Harrison. "I am sure I would lean in that direction because I don't want to let my teammates down, I don't want to let the organization down."

Tomlin said the issue is one between Harrison and the NFLPA and NFL.

"I won't advise James of anything," said Tomlin. "That has nothing to do with us. That is between him and the NFLPA and the league and I assume he is going to do what he needs to do."

  • Bell is still awaiting word on an appeal he filed with the NFL regarding a potential suspension for violation of the NFL's substance abuse policy.

Bell was suspended for the first two games of the 2015 season for violating the policy, and is now appealing a second suspension for what is being reported as a missed test, which the NFL categorizes as a failed test in Bell's case because of his previous violation.

He hasn't heard anything back, and wasn't commenting on it, instead just focusing on getting ready to play.

"I'll be ready to go whenever they call my number," said Bell. "I trained all summer to get ready for this time of year, make sure I didn't miss time in camp, and make sure my knee feels good. I feel great."

Tomlin said the appeal for the suspension is not playing any type of role in the planning during training camp and the preseason. 

"We are going to wait until a judgment is rendered and act accordingly from there," said Tomlin. "I don't want to waste time with speculation. It's usually not a productive use of time.

"We're preparing him to get ready for the season. He has done a nice job of it. He is a guy we choose to see others at his position at this point in the preseason and that is how we have approached his circumstances. The things that have been going on with him in New York haven't been a factor whatsoever." 

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