Belichick: Bans didn't have to happen

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick on Tuesday addressed the suspensions of defensive end Jermaine Cunningham and running back Brandon Bolden, saying “neither one of them needed to happen.”

Cunningham was banned four games Monday for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy. Bolden received a similar ban three weeks ago.

“Unfortunately, sometimes on these things, people make mistakes,” Belichick said on a conference call with reporters. “Everybody is accountable for them. I think those situations are unfortunate. Neither one of them needed to happen. They weren't that important, but they were violations, so they are what they are."

The league does not announce the substances for which players test positive.

Belichick wouldn’t comment further, saying the bans were a league matter and is out his hands.

With Cunningham now suspended, he does not count toward the team's 53-man limit on the active roster. Belichick said the team will use its normal protocol in approaching how to fill his spot.

"We'll have to take a look at our options here," Belichick continued. "Basically there's two options: we could bring somebody in outside the roster, or we could do something with a player on the practice squad. We'll see, take a look at our options, talk to (director of player personnel) Nick Caserio, get his thoughts and input on it relative to the personnel that's available like we usually do. (We'll) handle it the way that we usually handle those type of situations and try to make the best decision for the team that we can this week and the remaining five games."

Bolden can rejoin the team on Monday. Cunningham can return to the active roster on Monday, Dec. 24, and won't be eligible to play until the regular-season finale against the Miami Dolphins on Dec. 30.