NFL suspends Vikings fullback

Published 2:20 am Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Pro Bowl lead blocker is forced to sit 3 games

MINNEAPOLIS — Adrian Peterson’s lead blocker will be missing from the Minnesota Vikings for their first three regular season games.

Pro Bowl fullback Jerome Felton has received a three-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on substance abuse, the league announced Monday. No details were disclosed, per the NFL’s confidentiality agreement with the players’ union.

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Felton was drafted by Detroit in the fifth round in 2008 out of Furman but bounced between three teams over his first four years in the league until his breakthrough last season with the Vikings, when Peterson rushed for 2,097 yards and won the Most Valuable Player award.

Felton then signed a three-year contract with the club in March worth as much as $7.5 million, including $2 million guaranteed.

With an $850,000 base salary for 2013, Felton will lose $150,000 because of the ban.

Felton had an emergency appendectomy two weeks ago and has been recovering since, so even though his suspension doesn’t take effect until Saturday, he’s not expected to play in the team’s final preseason game Thursday against Tennessee.

He must miss the games at Detroit on Sept. 8, at Chicago on Sept. 15 and against Cleveland on Sept. 22, and he’ll be eligible to return to the active roster the day after that with his first allowable action on Sept. 29 against Pittsburgh in London.

Shortly after Felton first signed with Minnesota last year, he was arrested outside a fast food restaurant near the team’s practice facility and cited for two misdemeanor counts of driving while impaired.

The Vikings were off Monday, after playing at San Francisco the night before. In a statement, general manager Rick Spielman said, “We respect the league’s decision and Jerome understands it. Jerome is focused on returning to the playing field in week four.”

Without him, the Vikings will turn to fullback Matt Asiata and tight end Rhett Ellison to fill his role. Undrafted free agent Zach Line, who was a standout at Southern Methodist and has two touchdowns and 74 yards on three receptions in the preseason, has a chance to make the team, too.

The Vikings also pared their roster down to the 75-player limit one day ahead of the deadline by waiving the following: wide receivers LaMark Brown, Erik Highsmith and Chris Summers; running backs Bradley Randle and Jerodis Williams; cornerbacks Greg McCoy and Roderick Williams; defensive ends Lawrence Jackson and Marquis Jackson; quarterback James Vandenberg; linebacker Stanford Keglar; guard Tyler Holmes; and center Camden Wentz. Felton doesn’t count against the limit. Neither does defensive tackle Christian Ballard, who has been on the reserve/left squad list for unspecified reasons.

The only player on the cut list with significant experience was Lawrence Jackson, a former first-round draft pick by Seattle in 2008. He was with Detroit the past three years before signing with Minnesota this spring, but with Jared Allen, Brian Robison and Everson Griffen there’s a crowd at his position.