The NFL has suspended Carolina Panthers defensive end Frank Alexander 10 games for a second violation of the league's substance abuse policy.
Alexander was expected to return for the Panthers this week, as his previous four-game suspension for violating the policy was set to end. The defensive end's initial suspension was announced in May.
In a statement after his initial suspension, Alexander said he would be more responsible in the future and that he'd be prepared to contribute as soon as the suspension ended:
"I recently learned that I tested positive for a substance that is banned by the NFL. The NFL policy is strict, and I have chosen to take responsibility," Alexander said in a statement, as transcribed by ESPN. "I sincerely apologize to my teammates, coaches, and Panthers fans for the effect of my mistake on the team. I will continue to work extremely hard in all team workouts, training camp, and the pre-season with my team. During the suspension, I will stay in top football shape and be ready to contribute immediately upon my return."
Under the terms of the second suspension, Alexander will be eligible to return to the team for its Week 16 game against the Cleveland Browns.
Alexander, who was drafted by Carolina in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL draft out of Oklahoma, is in his third year in the NFL. In 28 career games, including six career starts, he has 3.5 sacks.
With Greg Hardy on the Commissioner's Exempt list due to his ongoing domestic violence trial, the Panthers are already thin at defensive end. Charles Johnson has also been nursing a hip injury, though he played despite the ailment in last Sunday's loss to the Ravens.
The Panthers are 2-2 after losing their last two games. They host the Chicago Bears on Sunday.
- Stanley Kay