The New York Jets' dynamic defense just became less vibrant.
|Rich Kane/US PRESSWIRE|
|Jets linebacker Calvin Pace has been suspended for the first four games of the season.|
He will be eligible to return to the active roster Oct. 5 and be able to play in Week 5 against the Miami Dolphins on "Monday Night Football."
Pace responded to the suspension through a statement released by the Jets:
"This is a situation that resulted from an over-the-counter dietary supplement that contained a substance that I did not know violated the league's policy. I am responsible for what I put into my body, and I should have paid closer attention to the league's guidelines.
"I regret that this has happened and apologize to my teammates, the entire Jets organization, as well as the fans. Hopefully, this does not distract from our ultimate goal of winning the Super Bowl."
Pace's absence will be a blow to Rex Ryan's defense. The big-ticket free agent led the Jets last year with 12 tackles for losses, tied for fifth in the NFL with five forced fumbles and recovered a team-high four. He finished with seven sacks, second to Shaun Ellis' eight.
Another possibility to step up is Marques Murrell, who was listed as Pace's backup on last year's depth chart and is said to have had a fine offseason.
The Jets better hope somebody steps up because a fast start could prove necessary to winning the AFC East, a division that might send only one team to the playoffs. The Patriots won 11 games last year and didn't get in, losing a tiebreaker to the Miami Dolphins, while the AFC North and AFC South sent two teams apiece.
The AFC East faces a far more difficult schedule this year. Their cross-divisional games are against the AFC South and NFC South.
That gives AFC East clubs four of the seven toughest schedules in the leagues based on last year's records.
Final Indianapolis 28 Cincinnati 42 Final Atlanta 21 Green Bay 22 Final Cleveland 26 New England 27 Final Oakland 27 New York 37 Final Detroit 20 Philadelphia 34 Final Miami 34 Pittsburgh 28 Final Buffalo 6 Tampa Bay 27 Final Kansas City 45 Washington 10 Final Minnesota 26 Baltimore 29 Final Tennessee 28 Denver 51 Final St. Louis 10 Arizona 30 Final New York 14 San Diego 37 Final Seattle 17 San Francisco 19 Final Carolina 13 New Orleans 31