Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Fisher Says 'Selfish' Dunbar Hurt Team

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Fisher Says 'Selfish' Dunbar Hurt Team

Article excerpt

A day after the NFL announced that starting linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar has been lost for the first four games of the 2013 due to a suspension for violating the league's policy on performance- enhancing drugs, head coach Jeff Fisher responded strongly to losing one of the most productive defenders from a year ago.

"We've known about it for some time and, obviously, we've been dealing with it," the coach said. "First and foremost, we're very, very disappointed in his choices and his decisions. It's selfish, it hurts the team, but we also see it as an opportunity to learn from a mistake. We discussed it with the entire squad last night and I think everybody understands the responsibility that each and every player has as far as taking care of himself and what you can do and what you can't do.

"It's behind us now."

Dunbar, 28, will miss the Arizona, Atlanta, Dallas and San Francisco games in September. Signed to a two-year, $3.05 million deal prior to the 2012 season, the former New Orleans Saint was one of the top free-agent pickups in the league last year, finishing second on the squad in tackles (157) as a weakside linebacker.

The NFL doesn't announce suspensions until the appeals process has been exhausted, which means the appeal has been heard or that Dunbar declined to appeal.

"He failed the performance-enhancing drug test," Fisher said. "As far as what it was, I'm not going to go into specifics."

Until the start of the regular season, Dunbar can participate in all team activities, including practices and exhibition games. Once the suspension starts, he will not be able to take part in any team activities until Sept. 27, the day after the Rams' Thursday night home game against the 49ers.

Will Witherspoon, in his 12th NFL season, will replace Dunbar in the starting lineup during the suspension and began getting some work alongside fellow starters James Laurinaitis and rookie Alec Ogletree during Thursday's practice.

Fisher said the team was aware of Dunbar's impending suspension when it signed Witherspoon to a one-year deal in mid July.

"But that wasn't why we signed Will," Fisher said, equating Dunbar's absence to the loss of an injured player. …

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