NEW YORK (AP) New York Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson has been suspended without pay for the first four games of the regular season on Thursday for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.
Richardson will be eligible to return to the Jets' active roster on Monday, Oct. 5 after the team's Oct. 4 game against the AFC East rival Miami Dolphins.
''I apologize for letting down my family, teammates, this organization and the fans,'' Richardson said in a statement.
''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 is eligible to participate in all offseason and preseason practices and games. The Jets do have depth on their defensive line, with defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, nose tackle Damon Harrison and first-round pick Leonard Williams.
Richardson is entering his third NFL season. He was the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2013. Richardson has been mostly a starter since that year and was expected to be a major part of new coach Todd Bowles' defense.
''This is disappointing for Sheldon and the team,'' Bowles said in a statement. ''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.''
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