Prior to the start of the 2010 regular season, the NFL doled out four-game suspensions to eight players. One, wide receiver Edward Gant, is not on an active NFL roster, and running back LenDale White has been placed on season-ending injured reserve.
Of the remaining six players, three return to first-place teams.
The biggest name, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, returns to a team that has returned to its stingy defense and power running roots to go 3-1 with Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch as the starting quarterbacks.
Roethlisberger is expected to be the starting quarterback when the Steelers face the Cleveland Browns after their bye week.
Linebacker Brian Cushing returns for the 3-1 Houston Texans, which should help improve the NFL’s 32nd-ranked pass and overall defense. Cushing, the NFL’s reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year, posted 4 quarterback sacks, 4 interceptions, and 10 passes defensed as a rookie.
At 3-1, the New York Jets will get Santonio Holmes back for their Monday night game against the Minnesota Vikings on October 11. Holmes, acquired from Pittsburgh in the off-season, led the Jets with 9 receptions for 175 yards during the pre-season, and his arrival should be a boost to a 25th-ranked passing offense.
Roethlisberger violated the league’s personal conduct policy, Holmes violated the NFL’s substance abuse policy, and Cushing was suspended for violating the league’s policy against performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs).
The 2-2 Tennessee Titans will get second-year linebacker Gerald McRath back from his four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s PEDs policy, though his return will be overshadowed by his coordinator’s one-finger salute to the officials.
Prior to his suspension, McRath (6-3, 224) was scheduled to start at outside linebacker for the Titans, who rank 8th defensively this season.
Buffalo Bills tight end Shawn Nelson (substance abuse policy) and Atlanta Falcons linebacker Robert James (PEDs) also come off suspension this week.