The Rams will be without one of their original starting linebackers for the first four weeks of the season. Outside linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar has been suspended from weeks one through four due to testing positive for PED’s. Dunbar is the second Rams player to be suspended, after backup running back Isaiah Pead, who is suspended for only the first week of the season. This is a blow to the Rams defense, which now will have to rely on veteran Will Witherspoon to take over the outside linebacker spot.
Dunbar, a six year veteran of the NFL, has not appealed his suspension, and it seems highly unlikely that he will. Dunbar tied for third with interceptions on the Rams last year with 2, had 4.5 sacks, and was second on the team with 114 tackles combined. This suspension was a big shock to the Rams organization, which has been a very strict and disciplinary-run team since coach Jeff Fisher’s arrival last year. When Chris Givens and Janoris Jenkins stayed out past the mandatory curfew last year, Fisher benched them in the key game against the 49ers.
The Rams face the Green Bay Packers today in Week 2 of the preseason. Dunbar, like all suspended players, is allowed to participate in preseason games as well as camp practices, but once week 1 of the regular season begins, his suspension will be implemented. Jo-Lonn participated in all 16 games with the Rams last year. He also was on the New Orleans Saints’ Super Bowl team in 2009.
With PED usage a major scandal and occurrence in Major League Baseball, the NFL will tolerate it’s usage even less. A second offense could result in a season long ban. It seems as though Dunbar doesn’t plan on making the same mistake twice. In reality, he can’t afford to.