KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Chiefs offensive tackle Donald Stephenson was suspended by the NFL for the first four games of the regular season Friday for violating the league’s performance-enhancing substance policy, a massive blow to an already unsteady offensive line.
Stephenson remains eligible to participate in all preseason practices and games, including Saturday night’s contest against the Minnesota Vikings. He will miss games against the Tennessee Titans, Denver Broncos, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots and be eligible to return to the active roster Sept. 30.
The substance was not disclosed. The Chiefs said in a three-sentence statement that they were informed of the positive test Friday and expressed disappointment in losing Stephenson but declined further comment. Stephenson said in a statement issued through the NFL Players’ Association that he took a medication that requires a therapeutic-use exemption and failed to properly investigate it.
“The rules are strict, and without a TUE, the consequence is a four-game suspension,” Stephenson said in the statement. “It is not a mistake I will ever make again. I will train extremely hard during my time away from the team, and I will be ready to contribute to my team’s effort to win a Super Bowl as soon as I return.”
Stephenson was a fill-in starter last season but was expected to anchor the right side this year, taking over for former No. 1 overall draft pick Eric Fisher as he moved back to left tackle.
The trickle-down of Stephenson’s suspension could also impact the number of offensive linemen the Chiefs keep when they go through roster cuts. Teams must trim from 90 players to 75 by Tuesday afternoon, and final cuts to the 53-man roster limit are due Sept. 30.
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