Panthers scrambling to replace suspended Buckner

The Carolina Panthers' strongest position took a hit Monday as the NFL announced it has suspended starting defensive tackle Brentson Buckner for four games for violating the league's policy on anabolic steroids and related substances.

The suspension begins immediately, meaning Buckner did not practice Monday and will not play Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.

Buckner is eligible to return to the Panthers' active roster Dec. 2, following their game against the Cleveland Browns.

Panthers coach John Fox expressed disappointment over losing one of his best defensive linemen. Buckner had four sacks this season and has played extremely well against the run. Carolina's starting defensive line has combined for 26 sacks this season, the same number the entire team had in 16 games last season.

Fox said he learned of the suspension Monday morning.

The NFL warned coaches at the league meetings that more than likely one guy would get nabbed for abuse of the policy this season, according to Fox. After the news, Fox warned his players about the league's crackdown on steroids and related substances.

"It is something that we stressed, and that's really all I can comment on," Fox said.

When asked how Buckner had played up until this point in the season, Fox replied, "Very well."

Fox said that Shane Burton will start in place of Buckner and that Mario Fatafehi will be the first tackle off the bench behind Kris Jenkins and Burton.

Burton has averaged about 20 plays per game this season, but now will see significantly more over the next month.


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