NFL Notes: Blackmon suspended indefinitely

NFL Notes: Blackmon suspended indefinitely
November 1, 2013, 7:15 pm
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Justin Blackmon has been suspended indefinitely for a third violation of the NFL's substance-abuse policy. (USA Today Images)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Justin Blackmon has been suspended indefinitely without pay for another violation of the NFL's substance-abuse policy.

Blackmon was previously suspended the first four games of this season for violating the policy.

So this is at least his third violation in about 18 months. And the Jaguars are acknowledging he has a problem.

"All of us who are a part of the Jaguars family care very deeply about Justin and his well-being," general manager Dave Caldwell said in a statement. "That said, he must be held accountable and accept the consequences announced today by the NFL.

"His suspension will provide him the opportunity to receive the attention and professional treatment necessary to overcome his challenges, and we will support him during this time. The Jacksonville Jaguars will evaluate Justin's status once he has successfully met the criteria to be considered for reinstatement to the league."

Blackmon's suspension begins immediately. Unlike his four-game suspension, he won't be allowed in the building during this one. He will be eligible to apply for reinstatement prior to the start of the 2014 season (see full story).

Bengals: Atkins has torn ACL
CINCINNATI -- An MRI test on Friday confirmed that Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, leaving the AFC North leaders without another star player on defense.

The All-Pro lineman got the leg bent under him while trying to make a tackle during the first half of a 22-20 overtime loss at Miami on Thursday night. The medical staff initially thought he'd torn the ligament, and the test a day later in Cincinnati confirmed it.

The Bengals (6-3) didn't have many injuries during their opening push that left them in control of the AFC North, leading second-place Baltimore (3-4). They've suffered several significant injuries in the last three weeks.

Top cornerback Leon Hall is out for the season with a torn Achilles tendon. Safety Taylor Mays also is gone with a dislocated shoulder. Middle linebacker Rey Maualuga got a concussion and hurt his left knee during a 49-9 win over the Jets on Sunday and was on crutches during the week, out indefinitely.

Now, they've lost their top defensive lineman. Atkins led all NFL interior linemen in sacks with 12.5 last season and topped the Bengals with six so far this year (see full story).

Vikings: Ponder starts over Freeman
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Christian Ponder will start at quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

Vikings coach Leslie Frazier made the announcement on Friday. Frazier has tabbed Ponder over Josh Freeman in a somewhat surprising decision.

After spending three games on the sideline, Ponder returned to the starting lineup last weekend against the Green Bay Packers while Freeman sat out with a concussion. But he did little to inspire confidence that he was capable of being the long-term answer at the position. He threw for 145 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions in a 44-31 loss to the Packers.

Most thought Frazier would go back to Freeman against the Cowboys. But Frazier says Ponder gives the team the best chance to win.