The St. Louis Rams will begin a new season without one of their starting linebackers.
Jo-Lonn Dunbar has been suspended without pay for the first four games of the 2013 season for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances, the league announced Wednesday.
Dunbar will be eligible to return to the Rams' active roster the day after their Week 4 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers. He is eligible to participate in all training-camp practices and preseason games.
NFL Network's Michelle Beisner talked to a Rams source who said Dunbar's failed test was not a result of PED use.
"I just want to say that I did not take a performance-enhancing drug," Dunbar said, via The Associated Press. "I mistakenly took something that prompted a failed drug test."
"I sincerely apologize to my teammates (and) the organization," Dunbar added. "I am deeply saddened by this. But I plan to serve my four-game suspension and get back to playing football as soon as possible."
Dunbar's suspension helps explain the Rams' signing of 11-year veteran Will Witherspoon to a one-year contract last month. Witherspoon is likely to join first-round draft pick Alec Ogletree and veteran James Laurinaitis in the starting lineup until Dunbar can return.
Dunbar was the 15th-best 4-3 outside linebacker last season, according to ProFootballFocus.com. It will be up to Witherspoon to replace Dunbar's impact, specifically against the run.The Around The League Podcast is now available on iTunes! Click here to listen and subscribe.