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The NFL has given Buffalo Bills running back Marshawn Lynch a three-game suspension for violating the personal conduct policy, ESPN.com's Michael Smith is reporting.
An announcement could come as soon as Thursday. Lynch would have 20 days to appeal NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's decision, but the Bills might want to make sure they have a running back for the first three weeks of the upcoming season.
Lynch's almost-exclusive backup, Fred Jackson, doesn't have a contract and isn't close in negotiations for a new one. The Bills talked to free agents Fred Taylor, Kevin Jones and DeShaun Foster but have failed to sign any veteran help.
The only other halfbacks on Buffalo's depth chart are sophomores Xavier Omon (six carries for 5 yards last year) and Bruce Hall (practice squad).
The hard-charging Lynch will be hard to replace. He made the Pro Bowl last year, running for 1,036 yards and eight touchdowns and catching 47 passes for 300 yards and one touchdown.
The Bills will open their season on "Monday Night Football" against the New England Patriots in Gillette Stadium. Beyond that, the NFL regular-season schedule hasn't been finalized.
Lynch was suspended because he got in trouble with the law twice in a nine-month span.
He was the driver in a hit-and-run incident in Buffalo on May 31. After controversial legal maneuvering that infuriated the community, Lynch escaped with a traffic ticket because the woman's injuries weren't severe.
The NFL didn't punish Lynch for that episode, but Goodell put him on notice.
Lynch was arrested Feb. 11 in Culver City, Calif., on three felony gun possession charges. Police approached Lynch and two other males in a suspiciously parked 2006 Mercedes-Benz. The officers reportedly smelled marijuana and performed a search of the vehicle. They claimed to find four marijuana-filled cigars and a loaded 9 mm semiautomatic handgun they determined was Lynch's.
The gun charges were reduced, and Lynch eventually agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of a concealed firearm in a vehicle. He received two years probation and 80 hours community service.
NOTE: For those curious why I've included a chart with 2007 rushing stats, I thought it would better illustrate how the Bills performed without Lynch in the lineup since he missed three games that year and only one in 2008. In the lone game Lynch missed last season, Jackson ran 27 times for 136 yards against the Patriots.