For purposes of this story, we are going to assume that Aaron Rodgers is the Green Bay Packers' starting quarterback Week 1 when the Pack visit the New Orleans Saints on Sept. 12. The Saints are currently 2.5-point favorites at William Hill Sportsbook, but Green Bay may well be favored by then if Rodgers is under center and due to the fact the Saints will for sure be without excellent defensive tackle David Onyemata and quite possibly Pro Bowl cornerback Marshon Lattimore as well.
New broke today that Onyemata will be suspended by the NFL – the amount of games yet unknown but will be at least two -- after testing positive for a banned substance. Onyemata released a statement Friday on Instagram relaying that he's facing a suspension.
"I was informed by the NFLPA yesterday that I have tested positive for a banned substance resulting in a suspension for part of the 2021 NFL season," Onyemata wrote. "While I was certainly surprised and disappointed with this news, I am responsible for what I put in my body. As I have never knowingly taken anything that could cause a positive test, we are currently in the process of testing the supplements I was taking at the time of the test. Regardless, I am committed to being more aware of any medication and dietary supplements that may contain substances banned by the NFL."
The 28-year-old Canadian, a 2016 fourth-round pick from the University of Manitoba, was also suspended for one game to start the 2019 season after being issued a misdemeanor summons for marijuana possession. That may or may not affect the length of this suspension.
Non-Saints fans may not be familiar with Onyemata, but he's one of the top interior linemen in the league. He was Pro Football Focus' seventh-highest graded defensive lineman in 2020 when he had career highs in tackles (44), sacks (6.5), tackles for loss (10), QB hits (16) and QB pressures (46) – those pressures ranked 13th among all defensive interior players, per PFF. Onyemata even had an interception (off Tom Brady), his first career.
Only one player on the Saints' defensive line played more snaps than Onyemata's 599 last season and that was Cameron Jordan. The New Orleans defensive line is thin as it is after the team traded veteran tackle Malcom Brown to Jacksonville, end Trey Hendrickson signed with the Bengals and tackle Sheldon Rankins signed with the Jets in free agency.
Lattimore, the 2017 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and a three-time Pro Bowler, was arrested in late March on suspicion of possessing a stolen gun. Per Ohio law, receiving a stolen firearm is a fourth-degree felony. No recent updates on that case. This dead period before training camp is often when the NFL will decide on any suspensions. The Saints report to camp July 27 in Metairie. New Orleans had been a top candidate to sign five-time Pro Bowl cornerback Richard Sherman, but his arrest this week likely scuttled that.
Green Bay won Week 3 in the Big Easy last year 37-30 in what would be the last-ever meeting between Rodgers and the since-retired Drew Brees. Who starts at QB for Week 1 this year between Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill is one of the NFL's top training camp questions. SportsLine will offer odds closer to camp on that battle.
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