Tennessee Titans fullback Ahmard Hall said Saturday that his four-game NFL suspension for using performance-enhancing substances is the result of a stimulant he took to stay awake on a drive from Nashville to Texas in February.
Hall will sit out the games without pay in a suspension announced Saturday along with the Titans' roster moves as they reached the league's limit. NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora reported that the Titans have a roster exemption for newly signed Chris Johnson, so they can stay at 54 players until Sept. 19 or when the running back is activated.
Hall, a former Marine, said in text messages to The Associated Press that he has never taken steroids and teammates, coaches and team officials know he took a stimulant.
"This happened back in February after the season, I basically took a stimulant to stay up while driving from Nashville to Texas, and was tested the next day at my home," Hall wrote. "We appealed the decision back in March, but it was denied and I was informed today."
Hall's suspension begins immediately, and he can return to the active roster Oct. 3 after the Titans play the Cleveland Browns. So, the Titans swapped an undisclosed future draft pick to the Green Bay Packers for fullback Quinn Johnson to fill the gap in an offense that will center on the running game.
Johnson, a fifth-round draft pick out of LSU in 2009, has played in 20 NFL games, including four starts last year for the Super Bowl champions.
"We have known that a suspension was a possibility for some time, and we have used the preseason to identify players that would fit the mold of what we needed, if Ahmard had to miss games," Titans general manager Mike Reinfeldt said in a statement released by the team. "Johnson is a traditional, downhill, blocking fullback who we think will fill that need. He is a former fifth round pick, who has done a nice job over the last two years for Green Bay."
This is the second consecutive season the Titans have seen a starter miss the first four games of the season because of such a suspension. Linebacker Gerald McRath sat out the first four games last year.
The Titans also announced a number of roster cuts, including wide receiver Justin Gage and veteran defensive end Jacob Ford.
The Tennessean cited the Titans' desire to get bigger along the defensive line as the reason for Ford's dismissal. The 6-foot-4, 252-pounder also was scheduled to make more than $1 million in 2011.
With the season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars just eight days away, the Titans find themselves thin along the defensive front, with Derrick Morgan expected to miss the game because of a knee injury.
Ford spent four seasons in Tennessee after the team selected him in the sixth round of the 2007 NFL Draft. He missed the entire 2007 season after injuring his left Achilles' tendon.
Ford appeared in 43 games for the Titans, with 90 tackles and 15.5 sacks.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.