From the AP-
BEREA, Ohio — Browns offensive tackle Ryan Tucker was suspended Friday for the first four games of the season for violating the NFL’s steroid policy.
Tucker, one of Cleveland’s leaders on the field and in the locker room, missed part of last season with what the team called a “mental disorder.” He says he is now healthy and is eligible to return to the roster Oct. 1, one day after the Browns host the Baltimore Ravens.
“I didn’t intend to compromise the integrity of the NFL, my team,” Tucker said following Friday’s morning practice. “I want to apologize to the fans, my family. It’s been a long road. I was pretty down and out last year, and in my attempt to come back I took a banned substance. I’m going to fulfill this punishment and get it behind me.”
Tucker will be allowed to stay with the Browns during training camp and preseason. However, coach Romeo Crennel said the 32-year-old player may not participate in team activities once the suspension without pay starts Sept. 1.
Tucker won a Super Bowl ring with the St. Louis Rams and has been a rock at right tackle for the Browns since joining them as a free agent in 2002. The 11-year veteran started all 16 games in 2005, and in 2003 he was the only Cleveland offensive player to be on the field for every snap.
He talked about “getting the respect and trust back of my teammates” earlier this week, but he wouldn’t elaborate.
Tucker was placed on the reserve-non-football-illness list for the final eight games last season. At the time, the Browns said Tucker’s disorder was one “commonly experienced by the general population as well as by professional athletes.” Tucker has given no details about his illness.
“I didn’t know if playing again was a possibility,” he said. “The bottom line is I’m healthy now, my family’s healthy and happy, people are behind me here and my family’s behind me.”
This season, he was being counted on to anchor the right side of Cleveland’s offensive line, which was rebuilt during the off season. The Browns signed guards Eric Steinbach and Seth McKinney as free agents and selected left tackle Joe Thomas with the No. 3 overall pick in April’s draft.
My comments after the jump.
This is pure speculation- but is it possible that the Browns knew this was going to happen? They didn’t seem too shocked or surprised about it. Could this be part of the reason that they drafted Joe Thomas? Obviously they didn’t reach for Thomas, but could it be that they would have rather had Peterson? Regardless, it also makes sense that they were reluctant to part with Shaffer.
Unfortunately for the Browns, this suspension takes place during the toughest part of the schedule. It would have been nice to start the season with the depth we were expecting. This all but hands the starting left tackle spot to Thomas.
I don’t want to bash Tucker over the head, as he at least admitted what he did. He is going to serve his punishment and continue to be tested. He has apologized to his team and his fans, and I guess we need to accept that apology. Problem is we don’t really trust you anymore Ryan. After whatever ‘personal’ issues you went through last year that caused you to quit midway through the season, and this latest incident we simply don’t feel like we can count on you when we need you most. I don’t know how you think you can earn that back. It will take time. Good luck, but if I were on the coaching staff this would knock you down the depth chart.