Bears DL Ratliff suspended 3 games for substance-abuse issue

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) The NFL suspended Chicago defensive lineman Jeremiah Ratliff without pay for the first three games of the season Monday, saying he violated its substance-abuse policy.

Ratliff will miss games against the Packers, Cardinals and Seahawks before he is eligible to return to the active roster in time for the Oct. 4 game against Oakland. He is eligible to participate in all preseason practices and games, including Saturday's game at Cincinnati.

Ratliff said he anticipated the suspension for a 2013 drunken-driving incident and will move on without appealing to the league.

''There's a lot of things I could be doing to help myself, help the team,'' Ratliff said. ''That's what I'm going to focus on. This was about what, two, three years ago? That's all behind me.''

Ratliff was given one year of probation and fined after pleading guilty to a January 2013 DWI charge after crashing a pickup truck into an 18-wheeler. He tested at a blood-alcohol level of 0.16, more than twice the legal limit, according to police. At the time, he played for the Dallas Cowboys.

Ratliff didn't want to go into whether he thought it was a fair suspension considering the incident happened in 2013.

''We've been down his road with the NFL and they don't care to hear it. So be it,'' he said. ''It's tough to sit out any game for any reason. Of course, a situation like this doesn't make it any easier.''

Coach John Fox agreed with the decision not to appeal the suspension, saying it's better to have it over as soon as possible to eliminate the guessing game about when the penalty would be served.

''I had experience a year ago where we lost a guy the week of a game (to suspension),'' Fox said. ''So sometimes it doesn't help the cause. It was going to be kind of what it was and we expected it and we'll deal with it.''

Ratliff, a four-time Pro Bowl selection in Dallas, had 6.5 sacks last season for the Bears. He can still practice with the team until they begin preparations for the regular-season opener, but on Monday he spent much of the time watching from the side.

Rookie second-round draft pick Eddie Goldman from Florida State is next on the depth chart at nose tackle, although Fox wouldn't necessarily commit to him as the opening day starter.

''When a door closes for somebody it opens for somebody else,'' Fox said. ''A lot of players are discovered through those opportunities. I can't predict the future and I don't want to try to.''

Ratliff said he has seen steady improvement from Goldman.

''He's coming along nicely,'' Ratliff said. ''The positive thing is younger guys get a lot more experience, a lot more reps. They have an opportunity to really get better and establish themselves.''

While the suspension was expected, it still came as one more blow to a Bears team missing three wide receivers due to injuries.

Alshon Jeffery is out with a calf strain, Marquess Wilson missed practice Monday with a pulled hamstring suffered in Saturday's preseason win at Indianapolis and first-round draft pick Kevin White will start the season on the physically unable to perform list due to shin surgery.

Quarterback Jay Cutler is trying to work into a new offense with only Eddie Royal among his top four receivers.

''You read around the league, people get injured,'' Fox said. ''It's part of football, so you deal with it. It gives other guys opportunities to get a chance to look at them. The passing game is the passing game regardless of what people are there.''

NOTES: Safety Ryan Mundy missed Monday's practice due to a hip injury. ... The Bears signed guard Lucas Nix to a one-year contract and waived injured tackle/guard Jason Weaver. Nix is a 6-foot-5, 325-pound former Oakland Raider who had been an undrafted free agent in 2012 out of Pittsburgh.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.