Now you may panic.
Chiefs offensive tackle Donald Stephenson has been suspended four games for violating the NFL’s performance enhancing drug policy, the NFL announced today. Statements from the Chiefs and Stephenson follow.
This morning the NFL notified the team of Donald Stephenson’s four-game suspension. Obviously losing Donald is disappointing, but we are in full compliance with the league’s policy. We will have no further comment on the situation.
Stephenson through his agent:
I’m extremely sorry that I failed to check with the NFL, NFLPA, or Chiefs’ medical team before I took a medication that requires a therapeutic-use exemption. The rules are strict, and without a TUE, the consequence is a four-game suspension.
I apologize to the Hunt family, John Dorsey, Coach (Andy) Reid and his staff, my teammates, and our awesome Chiefs fans. 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.
You may remember Stephenson spent some of his offseason working with LeCharles Bentley to get into shape for the 2014 season. There isn’t a history of his players getting suspended for PEDs after immediately working with Bentley so that probably has nothing to do with the positive test. Stephenson’s statement makes it sound as if he has been taking a drug like Adderall without the required paperwork.
Stephenson is eligible to return after games against the Tennessee Titans, Denver Broncos, Miami Dolphins, and New England Patriots have been completed. Kansas City can put him on the suspension list in order to create a roster spot to fill his void. Ryan Harris will likely get the first shot at right tackle in Stephenson’s absence.
Jeff Linkenbach may be the big winner here in terms of a roster spot. His flexibility to play both guard a tackle will prove useful with Stephenson out. Kansas City doesn’t really have a true swing tackle outside of Linkenbach unless the Chiefs are comfortable risking it with rookie Larry Duvernay-Tardif.