CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 01: Teammates John Malecki #77 and Weslye Saunders #44 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates after Saunders catches a touchdown against the Carolina Panthers during their preseason game at Bank of America Stadium on September 1, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
There is no word on the reason for the suspension, but it's likely for one of two things: a third violation of the league's substance abuse police (two prior violations are confidential, the third results in a four-game suspension), or a violation of the league's policy on anabolic steroids and related substances, in which a first offense is subject to a minimum four-game suspension.
Simply put, it's either his third failed drug test or his first failed banned substances test. Either way, it'll be his first suspension, and the first Steeler to be suspended for either violation.
Saunders, a talented but troubled tight end, went undrafted in 2011 largely due to the problems he stirred up off the field. He was suspended for a game by South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier for what he called a violation of team rules. Spurrier stressed it had nothing to do with an NCAA investigation into Saunders' attendance at a party which was later found to be promoted by an NFL agent.
Saunders eventually missed the entire 2010 season amid the NCAA investigation and his draft stock plummeted.
He hadn't been connected to any off-the-field issues through his rookie season publicly, and was seen as a young player on the rise. He is expected to make a bigger impact on the team's offense this season, but this suspension will push him back quite a bit, possibly leading the Steelers to re-consider the chance they gave Saunders as a UDFA last season.
Former Steelers WR Santonio Holmes was suspended for four games, but was traded to the Jets before that suspension took place. Holmes was also suspended for a game in 2008 by the Steelers, not the league, following a marijuana possession arrest.
Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger was suspended for six games (with it reduced later to four games) for conduct detrimental to the league, and LB James Harrison was suspended for a game in 2011 for a helmet-to-helmet hit onBrowns QB Colt McCoy.