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Antonio Gates suspended four games for PEDs

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We have a new biggest name in a rash of suspension announcements on the eve of the holiday weekend.

The San Diego Chargers announced Thursday that tight end Antonio Gates has been suspended four games without pay for violating the NFL Policy and Program for performance-enhancing substances.

Gates will miss games against the Lions, Bengals, Vikings and Browns. He is eligible to return to the active roster on Oct. 5, ahead of a Week 5 matchup against the Steelers. Gates is eligible to participate in all offseason and preseason practices and games.

"We are tremendously disappointed for our team and our fans as well as Antonio, but no more disappointed than Antonio is with himself," the Chargers announced in a statement. "Antonio is a member of the Chargers' family and we will continue to support him 100 percent."

Gates blamed his positive test on "supplements and holistic medicines" he used in an effort to recover from the past season.

"In my 12 years in the NFL, I have taken tremendous pride in upholding the integrity of the NFL shield and all that it entails," Gates said in a statement. "I have taken extreme care of my body with a holistic approach and I have never knowingly ingested a substance that was banned by the NFL."

Gates acknowledged that he should have done his "due diligence" to ensure his recovery stayed within NFL guidelines.

"I understand that I am responsible for what is in my body and I have always believed that ignorance is no excuse when it comes to these issues," he added. "I take full responsibility for my actions."

Gates' loss is a substantial one for a Chargers team that has come to rely on his playmaking abilities over the past decade. Gates had a team-high 12 touchdowns last season, and crossed the 10,000 receiving yard mark in San Diego's season finale. An eight-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro, Gates is one of the most productive and popular players in team history.

With Gates out, the Chargers will ask for a bigger role from Ladarius Green, an athletic playmaker who was unable to assume a bigger role in the offense last season. Now he'll need to.

Gates is the fourth player to have their suspension announced on Thursday. Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain and Packers defensive end Datone Jones also face bans.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast welcomes back Lindsay Rhodes to recap Antonio Gates' suspension and the 'Top 100' rankings. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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