The NFL suspended Jets linebacker Calvin Pace for four games without pay Thursday for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances.
Pace will miss New York's first four games of the season and be eligible to return for the Monday night game at Miami on Oct. 12.
In a statement issued by the Jets, Pace said the ban is a result of him taking an over-the-counter dietary supplement that he was unaware violated the NFL's policy.
Pace, in his second season with the Jets, is eligible to participate in preseason practices and games. The suspension begins Sept. 5 and he can return to practice on Oct. 5, a day after New York's game at New Orleans.
"I am responsible for what I put into my body and I should have paid closer attention to the league's guidelines," Pace said. "I regret that this has happened and apologize to my teammates, the entire Jets organization, as well as the fans. Hopefully, this does not distract from our ultimate goal of winning the Super Bowl."
The team also issued a statement: "We respect the league's decision and look forward to Calvin's return for our Monday night game at Miami."
Pace started all 16 games at outside linebacker in Eric Mangini's defense last season, and was expected to have a prominent role in new coach Rex Ryan's aggressive 3-4 system.
He finished second on the team last season with a career-high seven sacks, and added 67 tackles, five forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries. Pace signed a six-year, $42 million deal with New York last offseason that included a $20 million signing bonus. He spent his first five NFL seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, who selected him with the 18th pick in the 2003 draft.
Second-year linebacker Vernon Gholston, who had a disappointing rookie season, is expected to fill in at one of the outside linebacker positions, opposite starter Bryan Thomas. Ryan repeatedly said he was excited at the progress made by the former Ohio State star during minicamp and offseason workouts. Marques Murrell and Jason Trusnik will also be options to fill in.