Browns offensive tackle Donald Stephenson has been suspended by the NFL. He’ll miss the first two games of the season after violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
Stephenson skipped the Browns’ mandatory minicamp this week, which resulted in an 80K+ fine. The suspension will be even more costly as he’ll lose out on a pair of game checks.
In the interim, Stephenson will be eligible to participate in all offseason and preseason practices and games. He’ll be able to rejoin the team on Monday, September 17 after the Browns’ season opener against the Jets and their Week 2 contest against the Saints. His first game back should come on Sept. 20 when the Browns face the Jets in Cleveland.
Stephenson, 30 in September, saw his 2017 season with the Broncos cut short due to a torn calf muscle. He appeared in seven games with four starts before being shut down for the year. Stephenson’s 303 snaps were not enough to qualify for Pro Football Focus’ rankings, but in a larger sample, he would have graded out as the 12th-worst tackle in the league.
After signing a one-year, $2.5MM deal with Denver, Stephenson was slated to start the year as the first tackle off of the bench behind starters Shon Coleman and Chris Hubbard. He’s likely still in line for that role, though he’ll have to wait until Week 3 to see live action. For the first two weeks of the year, the Browns may lean more heavily on reserves Spencer Drango and Roderick Johnson for support.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.