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Steelers release unhappy running back Blount

PITTSBURGH — LeGarrette Blount’s early exit Monday night cost the volatile running back his job.

The Pittsburgh Steelers cut Blount on Tuesday, less than 24 hours after he jogged off LP Field with the clock still running in a 27-24 victory over the Tennessee Titans.

Coach Mike Tomlin called the decision to part ways with Blount “in the best interest of the organization” while bringing a swift end to the latest chapter in Blount’s increasingly nomadic career.

The Steelers signed Blount, a former Oregon players, to a two-year deal, $3.85-million deal in March to provide the running game with some needed heft. He ran for 266 yards and two scores but saw his playing time diminish in recent weeks. Blount took the field for just one play on Monday night while good friend Le’Veon Bell rushed for a career-high 204 yards and a touchdown.

Blount and Bell celebrated Bell’s 5-yard dive early in the fourth quarter that pulled Pittsburgh within a touchdown, posing for a faux selfie on the sideline after the play was upheld on review.

Yet when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger lined up for the final snap, Blount headed for the tunnel. He was already dressed when his teammates entered the locker room and sat on the bus while the rest of the Steelers (7-4) soaked in their fourth win in five games.

“I know him, I know he’s not a selfish guy, he’s a team guy,” said safety Mike Mitchell, who tried to coax Blount off the bus. “But it’s more so knowing his feelings were hurt. I just tried to get him to not do that but he’s a grown man.”

One who quickly lost the support of the guys he lined up with every week.

“If you don’t want to be here, don’t be here,” center Maurkice Pouncey said. “At the end of the day you’ve got your decision to make as a man and he made it.”

SAINTS: The New Orleans Saints placed starting rookie receiver Brandin Cooks on injured reserve on Tuesday, ending the former Oregon State star’s season.

Cooks’ agent, Jeff Sperbeck, said that the Saints’ second-leading receiver had surgery on his right thumb on Monday and was expected to be out four to six weeks. Although Cooks might have been able to return for the very end of the regular season — and playoffs, should the Saints qualify — Sperbeck said in an email to the AP that Cooks understands the Saints’ decision and “wants to do what’s best for the team.”

BROWNS: Cleveland has waived disgruntled running back Ben Tate, who had just two carries in Sunday’s loss to Houston, his former team.

Tate signed as a free agent with Cleveland in March to be their every-down back. He rushed for 333 yards this season, but his playing time dwindled with the emergence of rookies Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West.

Last week, Tate said he wasn’t satisfied with Cleveland’s running backs rotation and the team decided to move on without him.

49ERS: San Francisco 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman was scheduled for his first practice of the season Tuesday, officially opening a 21-day window during which the team can decide whether to activate him or send him to the injured reserve list.

The three-time All-Pro sustained a major injury to his left knee in last season’s NFC championship game against the Seattle Seahawks.

Bowman had appeared in every game the 49ers played over the previous four years and had started 58.

BRONCOS: Champ Bailey said goodbye to the NFL on Tuesday after signing a ceremonial one-day contract with his beloved Denver Broncos.

Bailey retired with a dozen Pro Bowl selections and 52 interceptions. He helped them reach the Super Bowl last season.