Colts tight end Weslye Saunders has been suspended for the first eight games of the 2013 season for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances, the NFL announced on Thursday.
He will not be eligible to play until the Nov. 3 game against Houston, but he can practice with the Colts during training camp and play in preseason games. He played in nine games and had two receptions for 15 yards last season.
Saunders, 24, drew an eight-game suspension because it's his second violation of the league's PED policy. He was also suspended for the first four games last season after testing positive for Adderall, a stimulant drug prescribed for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), while he was a Steeler. He was subsequently released and picked up by the Colts.
In October, Saunders told the Indianapolis Star the drug helped him focus when feeling drowsy, and that his younger brother took it.
“When you hear performance-enhancing drugs, automatically you kind of think of some guy in the corner shooting up whatever into his veins,” he said. “It was nothing like that. A one-time thing. I learned from it and am ready to roll now.”
Saunders could be in line for a year-long suspension if he has a third violation.
NFL.com's Ian Rapoport raised the question of the Colts' offseason interest in free agent tight ends was a precursor to the NFL's announcement. Saunders was also investigated by the NCAA for his possible relationship with an agent and suspended one game by South Carolina for violating team rules.