Chiefs offensive tackle Donald Stephenson has been suspended without pay for the first four games of the 2014 regular season for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.
Stephenson will be eligible to return to the Chiefs’ active roster on Tuesday, Sept. 30 following the team’s Sept. 29 game against the New England Patriots.
He is eligible to participate in all preseason practices and games.
“This morning the NFL notified the team of Donald Stephenson’s four-game suspension,” the Chiefs said in a statement. “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, a third-year pro who is projected to be the Chiefs’ starting right tackle this season, issued a statement through his agent, Ken Sarnoff.
“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.”
In Stephenson’s absence, the Chiefs could turn to backups Ryan Harris. Left guard Jeff Allen also has gotten some work at right tackle in camp.
Stephenson, 25, served as a valuable swing tackle for the Chiefs last season, as he alternated between the left and right sides as starters Branden Albert and Eric Fisher battled injuries. Over his first two seasons, he’s played in all 32 games and made 14 starts.