The Jacksonville Jaguars found out Wednesday they will be without second-year wide receiver Ace Sanders for the first four games of the regular season because he had violated the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
Sanders, a fourth-round selection last year out of South Carolina who wound up being the Jaguars’ second-leading receiver with 51 catches for 484 yards and one touchdown, had said Tuesday in a conference call that he would take a leave of absence during training camp because of what he called personal issues.
"It is unfortunate," coach Gus Bradley said Wednesday during an interview on Jaguars.com LIVE. "You hate to lose a player of Ace’s caliber for a period of time. He’s a great teammate, and players really respect him. He’s very talented.
"But with that being said, a lot of good has come about with this, and we’re not going to miss that opportunity."
Sanders will not be paid during his suspension and cannot play in a game until Oct. 5 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. But Bradley expects Sanders, who was also the team’s primary punt returner in 2013, to have a role once he returns from his suspension.
"We’ve talked to Ace and said, ‘When you come back from all of this, we’re going to welcome you with open arms and let’s get back to work,’ " he said. "We’ve talked to our guys about, ‘You’ve got to get your world right, then the man becomes right.’ "
He’s the second receiver the Jaguars have had suspended in less than a year. Justin Blackmon, their first-round pick in 2012, had to sit out the final eight games of last season and has yet to be cleared to return.
Sanders missed much of the Jaguars’ organized team activities in the spring because of a thigh injury. When training camp opens Friday, they might need to rely on rookies Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson or second-year pros Mike Brown and Kerry Taylor.