NEW YORK (Reuters) - Buffalo Bills tight end Shawn Nelson has been suspended without pay for the first four games of the regular season after violating the NFL's policy on substance abuse, the league said on Friday.

The second-year player will begin serving the suspension on September 4 and will be eligible to return October 4.

Nelson, who can still participate in preseason practices and games, will miss games against the Miami Dolphins, Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots and New York Jets.

The former fourth-round draft pick had 17 receptions for 156 yards and one touchdown in 12 games for the Bills last season.

(Writing by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; Editing by Frank Pingue.)