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Thursday, July 31, 2014
Alexander calls suspension 'eye-opening'

By David Newton

SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- Frank Alexander is the forgotten defensive end when it comes to offseason troubles for the Carolina Panthers.

When Greg Hardy was arrested on May 13 and subsequently found guilty of assaulting and threatening his ex-girlfriend, Alexander's four-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy was forgotten by many.

Not Alexander.

He realizes how close he came to throwing away his career.

"That went through your head, just thinking one more slip-up and it could be a year out," Alexander said on Thursday, his first public comments since his May 2 suspension was announced by the NFL. "Most times when guys get out for a year it's hard to come back from that. It's just an eye-opening experience.

"I've just got to be smarter from here on out."

Although he wouldn't speak to the specifics of the substance, Alexander didn't hesitate to say he was wrong.

"I did it," the third-year player out of Oklahoma said. "It ain't nothing to appeal. I've got to stay prayed up and when I come back just come back strong."

The Panthers are fortunate Hardy is appealing his conviction by a Mecklenburg County judge. The NFL and Panthers won't discipline him until after the jury trial, which isn't expected to happen until after the season.

Had Hardy been suspended for at least two games to start this season as Baltimore's Ray Rice was on similar charges, the Panthers could have been without two of their five defensive ends when the season opens at Tampa Bay.

Once the season starts, Alexander won't return to the active roster until Monday, Sept. 29 following the team's Week 4 game at Baltimore.

"It's very disappointing, man, when something like that gets taken away from you," Alexander said.

Alexander has six starts and 3.5 sacks in two seasons. He is the first Carolina player suspended for violating the substance abuse policy since defensive tackle Andre Neblett in July 2012.

Despite the suspension, Alexander has been full-go in training camp. Coaches have told him  "just to keep working and pay attention to the little details, and just be ready when you come back."