LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — Linebacker Jerrell Freeman on Monday became the second Chicago Bears player suspended for violating the league's performance-enhancing drug policy in as many weeks.
Freeman was suspended for four weeks and is eligible to return to practice before the Dec. 24 home game against the Washington Redskins. Freeman, in his first year in Chicago after signing as a free agent, leads the Bears with 69 tackles and with 22 assists.
He apologized and said he took full responsibility for a "mistake with my prescription medication." Last week, wide receiver Alshon Jeffery was suspended four games for the same violation and will be eligible to return for the Dec. 18 game against Green Bay.
"Obviously it puts us in a tough spot," coach John Fox said a day after his team lost 22-16 to the New York Giants . "That's why you usually see apologies, I think they understand that and it's obviously a mistake and one they typically regret."
"These guys understand all the parameters of the drug testing involved in our league," Fox added. "But much like Alshon, we move on and we'll move on without Jerrell."
Despite the pair of suspension in such a short time, Fox said he didn't think it was a problem specific to Chicago.
"It's an issue everywhere in the league," he said. "That's why we have drug testing in any professional sport or even Olympic sports. It happens, unfortunately."
Without Freeman, the Bears will turn to either John Timu or Nick Kwiatkoski alongside Danny Trevathan at inside linebacker.
"For me, I know what type of person Jerrell is," Bears tackle Charles Leno Jr. said. "He made a mistake, he owned up to it and I forgive him. It's a loss that we're going to have on the defensive side of the ball, but that gives opportunities for guys like Nick to step up, so I'm excited to see Nick play this week if he gets the opportunity, and John Timu."
The suspensions come at a poor time for the Bears, who lost tight end Zach Miller to a broken right foot against the Giants as they dropped to 2-8. They also lost several other players in the game, including rookie linebacker Leonard Floyd to a scary neck injury. Floyd was put on a stretcher and taken to a hospital.
Fox said the team's top draft choice was feeling better and made it to the team charter for the return to Chicago on Sunday night. Fox said it's too early to tell whether Floyd could play Sunday at Soldier Field against Tennessee.
"I think he's got some neck soreness, he's in the concussion protocol," Fox said. "The real serious stuff is behind him."
Fox also said star right guard Kyle Long will have surgery on his right ankle next Monday. The three-time Pro Bowl lineman was hurt in last week's loss at Tampa Bay and placed on injured reserve.
Fox said Long will have surgery to repair a left shoulder injury he has been dealing with since the preseason "in the distant future."
Notes: G Josh Sitton (ankle) and CB Cre'Von LeBlanc (concussion) also were injured Sunday, and Fox had no further news on the severity of their injuries. ... The Bears waived DL Jimmy Staten. In his third season, Staten has not appeared in a regular-season game with the Kansas City Chiefs (2015-16), New England Patriots (2015), New York Giants (2015), Seattle Seahawks (2014-15) and Chicago Bears (2016).
More AP NFL coverage: http://pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL