Lions' Rogers suspended four games

Updated: October 22, 2006, 7:26 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

Detroit Lions defensive tackle Shaun Rogers, one of the NFL's most talented players at his position, has been suspended four games for a violation of the steroid and related substances policy, the league said Wednesday.

Shaun Rogers
Rogers

Rogers told ESPN.com's Michael Smith that he was taking an appetite suppressant that contained a banned substance, a form of ephedrine, to help eliminate the late-night cravings he had while dealing with a sleeping disorder. Rogers, who underwent surgery in the preseason to correct sleep apnea, said he stopped taking the product before reporting for training camp. He failed an Aug. 6 league test.

Rogers was in Houston on Wednesday undergoing right knee surgery to repair a partially torn meniscus. Rogers' agent, Kennard McGuire, confirmed that the defensive tackle will not appeal the suspension because the recovery period from surgery is four to six weeks, possibly putting Rogers on track to return from injury right around the time he's eligible to return from suspension. Also, there's a possibility the Lions may still be willing to pay the $250,000 weight bonus they withheld from Rogers when he reported to training camp over his target weight of 335. He said he's at 334 now.

"My biggest concern," Rogers said before going into surgery, "is letting people know I didn't take any steroid or performance enhancer. That's not what I'm about. I've been blessed to be able to play the game well from a natural state.

"I didn't take anything to hurt the integrity of the game. Anybody who looks at me knows I don't have abs the first. Well, maybe one. I've taken several random test since then and if they look at those they'll see the substance was gone."

The substance that precipitated the positive test is not considered an anabolic steroid. But the violation still falls under the purview of the NFL's steroid and related substances policy, and not the substance abuse policy. Under the latter, a player must test positive multiple times to mandate a suspension. A violation under the steroid and related substances policy earns a player an immediate four-game suspension, even for a first offense.

ESPN.com's John Clayton first reported the four-game suspension.

Because of the timing of the suspension, and since Detroit has a bye week during the sanctions, Rogers will forfeit $250,000 of his scheduled $850,000 base salary for the 2006 season.

The suspension is immediate, meaning that Rogers will miss this Sunday's game at the New York Jets, home contests against Atlanta (Nov. 5) and San Francisco (Nov. 12), and a game at Arizona (Nov. 19). He will be eligible to return for the Thanksgiving Day game against the Miami Dolphins on Nov. 23.

A sixth-year veteran, Rogers was a second-round choice in the 2001 draft, and the former University of Texas star has, at times, been one of the NFL's most dominant interior defensive linemen. There have also been times, however, when Rogers' performance has been inconsistent, and in which his effort has been questioned by the Detroit organization.

Rogers, 27, has been battling right knee problems this season and first-year coach Rod Marinelli has held him out of some practices lately to take some pressure off the knee. Rogers may now use the suspension to take time to have arthroscopic surgery on the knee. In six games this season, Rogers has 20 tackles, three sacks and a fumble recovery.

For his career, Rogers has 314 tackles, 22 sacks, 18 pass deflections, four forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries. After the 2004 season, he signed a six-year, $46 million contract extension that made him the league's highest paid defensive tackle at the time.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here Insider.