NFL ROUNDUP | News and notes
Packers: Green Bay wide receiver Koren Robinson was suspended without pay for a minimum of one year for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. The league's action came hours after Robinson pleaded not guilty to charges of drunken driving and fleeing police stemming from a high-speed chase in August. Robinson's agent, Alvin Keels, said he was surprised the league didn't wait until after Robinson's legal issues in Minnesota had been resolved to issue the suspension. Keels said Robinson was disappointed by the decision. "He seems to be handling it well," Keels said. "I think he's in a state of shock right now. We thought the league would wait. But obviously, they're trying to make a statement." Robinson said Monday that he expected to play in the Packers' game in Miami on Sunday and didn't think his legal troubles would affect his playing status this year. Keels said the reason given for the suspension was the league believed Robinson consumed alcohol on the night he was arrested in Minnesota. Under the terms of the league's substance abuse policy, officials didn't have to wait for Robinson's court case to be resolved to suspend him.
Dolphins: Former Virginia Tech quarterback Marcus Vick rejoined the Dolphins as a receiver after spending the first six weeks of the season on their practice squad. To make room on the roster for Vick, the Dolphins terminated the contract of wide receiver Cliff Russell. He played in three games and caught two passes for 14 yards. Vick will provide depth at quarterback while sidelined starter Daunte Culpepper focuses on rehabilitating his surgically repaired right knee. Joey Harrington and Cleo Lemon are the Dolphins' other quarterbacks. Miami signed Vick as an undrafted free agent and switched him to receiver after he was kicked off the team at Virginia Tech in January following his junior year. He caught one touchdown pass, played as a kick returner and took a handful of snaps at quarterback during the exhibition season. Vick's tumultuous, abbreviated career at Virginia Tech was marred by repeated brushes with the law and other misbehavior. He's the brother of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick.
Falcons: Atlanta guard Matt Lehr was suspended four games by the NFL for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Lehr, a fifth-round draft choice by the Dallas Cowboys in 2001, is part of an offensive unit that leads the NFL in rushing yardage. He'll be eligible to return to the Falcons' active roster on Nov. 13. "Obviously, we are disappointed, but the NFL's policies are very clear that all NFL players are responsible for what goes into their bodies -- regardless of the source," coach Jim Mora said in a statement. "We have options to replace Matt over the next four weeks that we are very comfortable with." Tyson Clabo, who has never started an NFL game, and Austin King, who started at guard in last season's final game, are Lehr's likely replacements.
Colts: Indianapolis' leaky run defense got some much-needed help when it acquired defensive tackle Anthony McFarland for a 2007 second-round draft pick in a rare midseason deal. The Colts announced the deal about one hour after Tuesday's trading deadline. Tampa Bay officials were expected to hold a news conference Tuesday evening. McFarland, a 6-foot, 300-pound defensive tackle, should help shore up the middle of the Colts' run defense that ranks near the bottom of the league. It also should help offset the loss of former Pro Bowl defensive tackle Corey Simon, who will miss the rest of this season with a mysterious illness that team officials call unrelated to the arthroscopic knee surgery he had in mid-August. McFarland is familiar with both the Colts' defense and coach Tony Dungy, whom he played under for three seasons. The Bucs took him with the 15th overall pick in the 1999 draft.
Patriots: New England will start replacing the worn-out center strip of the Gillette Stadium grass field with new sod in time for their next home game. "They're all set for grass," Tim Davey, the NFL official in charge of fields as director of game operations, said Tuesday. Davey, who spoke with "a very high authority" in the Patriots organization Monday, said the process will begin Oct. 25 and should take two or three days. The Patriots' next home game at Gillette Stadium is Nov. 5 against Indianapolis. He said the Patriots can't switch to the increasingly popular synthetic FieldTurf this year because NFL rules forbid teams from changing from natural grass to an artificial surface during the season. At Gillette Stadium, the section between the hash marks running from goal line to goal line has worn down this season, partly because of summer concerts held on the field, causing players to slip and kick up dirt.
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