(Image courtesy of Louis DeLuca/The Dallas Morning News)
The Dallas Cowboys’ middle linebacker, Ronaldo McClain, has been suspended without pay for four games, for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
The news comes fresh after reports surfaced that he signed a one-year contract to return to the Cowboys after having a breakout 2014 season.
“I apologize to my family, the Cowboys organization, my teammates and Cowboys fans for my mistake,” McClain said in a statement, released through the NFL Players Association. “I will not break the rules of my profession in the future, and I regret my error. I look forward to returning to the field on Week 5, when I hope to help my team beat the Patriots.”
McClain impressed staff in training camp with his performance, and became a starter on Dallas’ improved defense under coordinator Rod Marinelli, collecting 81 tackles, one sack, two interceptions and one forced fumble in 13 games. He became a reliable component on a unit that lost linebacker Sean Lee to an offseason knee injury.
McClain played previously with the Raiders, his last season in 2012, but retired in April of 2014. He was later acquired by Dallas in a trade with the Baltimore Ravens. The eighth overall pick of the 2010 draft, McClain had several off-field issues in his three-year run with the Raiders, and also was reportedly at odds with the coaching staff.
He underwent knee surgery this offseason, missing workouts. He will be eligible to participate in training camp and preseason, and is expected to be healthy by that time.
Kristen Ashly is a contributor and editor for Nuts & Bolts Sports. You can follow Kristen on Twitter @KristenAshly.