The NFL has suspended Carolina Panthers defensive end Frank Alexander for four games for violating the substance abuse policy. Alexander, a 4th-round pick out of Oklahoma in the 2012 draft, showed promise his rookie season, notching 2.5 sacks and 18 tackles rotating in on a dominant front. However, he took a step back last year, getting ejected in the first game of the season for punching a Seahawks player. He would eventually fall out of favor with the coaching staff, being passed over on the depth chart by Mario Addison and rookie Wes Horton. His stats in 2013 were cut in half from his rookie campaign, accumulating just one sack and nine tackles for the year.
Alexander will be allowed to participate in all team activities outside of the first four regular season games. He will be able to return for the Week 5 matchup with the Chicago Bears. Alexander’s absence gives Addison, Horton, and new Canadian superstar Alex Hall (who had 15 sacks in the CFL last season) an opportunity to establish themselves the defensive line rotation. Perhaps more importantly, the more playing time allows one of them to show the coaching staff that he’s good enough that Dave Gettleman can let Greg Hardy walk this offseason. If not, Carolina may be forced to shell out a pretty heft contract for Hardy. Alexander will still have the chance to do that, but this really hurts his future with the team.