Jags' Stroud faces suspension for violating NFL steroids policy

Jaguars defensive tackle Marcus Stroud is facing a four-game suspension, which could start as early as this weekend, for a violation of the NFL steroids and related substances policy.

News of Stroud's pending suspension was reported by the Florida Times-Union on Wednesday morning and confirmed by league and team sources and sources close to Stroud.

A three-time Pro Bowl performer, Stroud registered a positive test within the past two weeks, a source said, and he's exercised his right to have the so-called "B-sample" of his urine tested. If that test is also positive, Stroud would be suspended.

Stroud declined to address the reports Wednesday,
but said he expects to play Sunday when the Jaguars play at New Orleans.

"I'll be there Sunday," Stroud said. "I'm not here to squash
rumors. I'm here to play ball. Whatever happens will happen. But
right now, I'm going to focus on New Orleans. I have no comment on
anything else."

Stroud still would have the right, under the collective bargaining agreement, to appeal the suspension. But two sources close to the seventh-year veteran said he might forgo an appeal and serve the suspension immediately in order to return in time for the final month of the season and possibly the playoffs.

If the Jaguars receive notification of the positive test this week -- and some club officials expect this to occur by Friday -- then Stroud might begin his four-week hiatus beginning Sunday.

The banned supplement for which Stroud tested positive is not known. A suspension would cost him $332,941 of his scheduled base salary of $1.415 million for 2007. In 2005, Stroud signed a five-year, $31.5 million contract extension.

The NFL does not comment on any matter involving its
confidential drug policy.

Coach Jack Del Rio also declined comment.

"There's really nothing I can do to address the swirling rumors
and stories," Del Rio said. "There will be an appropriate time
for all that."

Stroud, 29, underwent offseason microfracture surgery on his chronically problematic right ankle, and it is believed he may have taken supplements to speed his recovery.

A first-round pick in the 2001 draft, Stroud teams with fellow Pro Bowl performer John Henderson to provide Jacksonville one of the premier tackle tandems in the league. Neither tackle has performed, however, to his usual standards so far this season. In seven games, Stroud has 21 tackles and three sacks.

For his career, the former University of Georgia player has 443 tackles, 22 sacks, seven forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and 22 passes defensed.

Perhaps knowing that Stroud was facing suspension, the Jaguars on Tuesday reached a one-year contract agreement with 11-year veteran defensive tackle Grady Jackson, who had been released by the Atlanta Falcons last week. The Jaguars also placed second-year defensive tackle Tony McDaniel on injured reserve with a broken wrist.

Jackson said there were seven or eight teams
interested in signing him, but he chose the Jaguars because of their defense.

"I like the style of defense they play, the one-gap scheme, and
how aggressive they are and a couple of coaches I know on the
staff," Jackson said, adding he played under linebackers coach Mark Duffner in Green Bay and special teams coach Joe DeCamillis in

Senior writer Len Pasquarelli covers the NFL for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.