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Monday, November 26, 2012

Jermaine Cunningham Suspended 4 Games By The NFL For PEDs, It All Makes Sense Now

We all thought Patriots defensive end Jermaine Cunningham would be cut in this past preseason, so it was somewhat of a surprise that not only did he find himself on the initial 53-man roster out of training camp but he was actually making a few plays. Today, he was suspended without pay by the NFL for four games after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs so I guess we know we he morphed from a complete bust (2nd round pick, 2010) to a bust.

It's not like he has been setting the world on fire (23 tackles, 2.5 sacks) but at least he was playing (in 2011, he had 1 tackle in 9 games) and when he got a chance, stepping up once in a while. He had appeared in all 11 games for New England in his third season out of Florida. He becomes the second Patriot (rookie running back Brandon Bolden was the other) suspended this season for PEDs. Bolden can return next Monday and then appear in the game on Sunday, December 10 vs. Houston. Cunningham can return on Monday, December 24 and appear in the regular season finale against Miami on December 30. He'll miss this week against the Dolphins, next week against the Texans, the Niners and Jaguars.

Cornerback Aqib Talib was also popped for PEDs (Adderall) when he was employed by Tampa Bay earlier this season. Not to speak in hyperbole but the NFL is currently fighting an epidemic of PEDs, Seahawks cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman also tested positive last weekend and they could be facing a four-game suspension although they appealed so they can play on Sunday. Brandon Spikes was caught two years ago in his rookie season.

For our purposes, Cunningham's absence is bigger than you might think at first blush. It all depends on Chandler Jones' status since he didn't play on Thanksgiving against the Jets due to an ankle injury. Cunningham is the first sub for the defensive ends so if Jones is out again on Sunday (1 p.m., CBS) at the Dolphins, it means that veteran Trevor Scott along with rookies Justin Francis and Jake Bequette will see much more playing time.

The best part of these failed drug tests is that we almost never know what the player got caught taking. Wouldn't it make more sense to be transparent and tell everyone what it was? Oh well, maybe it was just some Adderall for Cunningham (wink wink, nudge nudge). Let's just hope that the most important players on the Patriots are only drinking milk every night and maybe the occasional protein shake. Enough with these suspensions, no playoff team can withstand too many of them.

UPDATE 11/28: 7th-round draft pick Jeremy Ebert, a poor man's Julian Edelman, was resigned to the practice squad while fullback James Develin (formerly a defensive lineman at Brown) was activated to the 53-man roster today.

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