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New York Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson has been suspended four games by the NFL for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
Richardson was cited for using marijuana and will not receive any pay over these four weeks. However, he can participate in all offseason and preseason activities.
The Jets have a bye week during week five, so the first game Richardson will participate in is week six against the Washington Redskins, barring any further punishment or injury.
Richardson Released this statement, courtesy of the New York Jets:
“I apologize for letting down my family, teammates, this organization and the fans. However, words aren’t enough. This is something that can only be addressed by how I handle myself from this point on. I don’t want this to take away from what the team is trying to accomplish. While I won’t be there at the start of the regular season, I will do whatever I can to support my teammates until I’m able to return to the field.”
Richardson’s suspension will hurt the Jets in the beginning of the season. Richardson was a Pro Bowler for the first time in his career and was a menace to opposing offensive lines.
The Jets stacked their defense over the offseason, but would certainly be better off with the former Missouri Tiger fronting it.
Last season, Richardson shined, recording 66 tackles, eight sacks, and had a forced fumble. He even found a role on the offense, as ex-coach Rex Ryan would use him to bulldoze through the line as the fullback in goal line situations. He scored twice during these scenarios.
Richardson’s absence will pave the way for rookie Leonard Williams. The Jets selected Williams with the sixth overall pick in the draft, with many questioning his role with the team.
With Richardson out the first four games, Williams will get a taste as the starting defensive tackle role, and begin his promising NFL career.
The Jets will also get a good look at their first round draft pick in action.
New head coach Todd Bowles spoke on Richardson’ suspension, saying:
“This is disappointing for Sheldon and the team,’’ Todd Bowles said of the unwelcome news as he approaches his first training camp as head coach. “We’re going to support Sheldon and welcome him back upon his return. We will keep moving forward with our preparations for the upcoming season.”
The Jets will have to fight through the first four games of the season without Richardson, but they will not be left without a talented defense.