For a third time in just more than a year, the NFL has suspended Carolina Panthers defensive end Frank Alexander for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
And this time it’s for at least a year.
Alexander, who was suspended for four games at the start of the 2014 season and then another 10 games as he was about to return from suspension, is on the team’s injured reserve as he recovers from an Achilles tear suffered in the preseason.
He’ll begin serving his suspension immediately, and it’s likely to end his career with the Panthers.
Alexander said this summer his 2014 suspensions were for positive marijuana tests. He said he used it to relax and compared it to someone having a glass of wine after work.
He spent 16 days in a Boston-area rehab facility last summer after what he said was his fourth positive test. Alexander was subject to being tested by the league at random because of his multiple failed tests.
In training camp this summer, Alexander competed for a starting defensive end position with second-year end Kony Ealy. He started in two exhibitions before suffering the injury.
Alexander, drafted in the fourth round in 2012, has only accrued three seasons because of the 14 games he spent on suspension last year. The Panthers can’t cut him from the injured reserve without reaching an injury settlement, but a third strike may be the team’s limit.
On Tuesday, the Panthers announced defensive end Wes Horton and receiver Stephen Hill had been suspended. Horton violated the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy and received a four-game suspension, and Hill’s summer citation for marijuana paraphernalia cost him a one-game suspension under the league’s substance abuse policy.