The Washington Redskins were counting on defensive end Jarvis Jenkins to make a big leap this season, and his importance to the team only grew when they learned his top backup, Adam Carriker, will miss the next four to five months after quadriceps surgery.
Now Jenkins won't even be available to start the season. The NFL announced Friday that Jenkins will be suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances.
According to The Associated Press, Jenkins is the eighth Redskins player to receive an NFL drugs-related suspension in 22 months, leaving coach Mike Shanahan to say: "We have emphasized it. But maybe not enough."
Jenkins said in a statement that he was "shocked and confused" by the ruling.
"It's an obscure substance that I've never even heard of, and I still don't know how it got into my body," Jenkins said. "My only guess is that it came from one of the supplements I was taking around the time of the test, even though none of them listed anything banned."
It's a big setback for Jenkins, who showed promise as a rookie in the 2011 preseason before tearing his anterior cruciate ligament. Jenkins returned last season as a solid run defender, and we expected him to be a difference-maker this year.
UPDATE: Jenkins told reporters after practice "it was a simple mistake" and that he took an over-the-counter supplement without a label that identifies it as OK with the league and the players' union. He said the NFL listed the substance as a possible masking agent.
"The NFL has strict rules," Jenkins said, via The AP. "... They tell us we're responsible for what's in our body. Obviously I'm being led as an example."
Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.