Vikings defensive end Spencer Nealy has been suspended 4 games for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. For those who don’t know who Spencer Nealy is, he’s a former Texas A&M defensive end that signed with the Detroit Lions last year immediately after the draft. The Lions waived him on August 1st and the Vikings signed him later that month, on the 20th.
They waived Nealy on August 31st but did not add him to the practice squad. After the Cowboys signed Everett Dawkins from the Vikings practice squad on November, they had an opening (technically, they had an opening after waiving Audie Cole and signing Kevin Murphy, but they signed Audie Cole shortly later and demoted Murphy back to the practice squad) and signed Nealy.
A month later, on December 20th, Nealy was once again waived from the Vikings practice squad in order to make room for Robert Steeples (at least it was presumably for Steeples, who was promoted and then waived by the Vikings earlier that year. There was a lot of movement at the time, including promoting Joe Banyard from the PS, putting John Carlson on injured reserve, signing Chase Ford to the PS and what have you). He signed a futures contract with the Vikings after the season.
As @VikingsCorner pointed out, Nealy is still eligible to participate in all practices and preseason games, but will be barred from practicing with the team as soon as the season starts. Per an NFL spokesman, by way of Vikings.com:
Spencer Nealy of the Minnesota Vikings has been suspended without pay for the first four games of the 2014 regular season for violating the NFL policy on performance enhancing substances.
Nealy will be eligible to return to the Vikings’ active roster on Monday, September 29 following the team’s September 28 game against the Atlanta Falcons.
Nealy is eligible to participate in all offseason and preseason practices and games.
The specific issue was taking a banned supplement so banned because of one of its ingredients, which Nealy says he is responsible for:
In a statement, Vikings DE Spencer Nealy says he tested positive for a stimulant from a banned supplement. Says he’s responsible, apologized
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 11, 2014
Here’s Sports Illustrated’s scouting report on Nealy (linked to the Pride of Detroit blog because SI’s redesign has killed all previous article links):
At first glance Spencer Nealy does not look like a viable NFL prospect because he is a tweener that lacks the bulk and strength to hold the POA inside and the speed and all around athleticism to play on the edge. However, he is a high-effort player that makes more plays than he should because of whistle-to-whistle competitiveness. The NFL has become a very specialized game, and if used correctly Nealy can become an effective rotational player that can play LDE on run downs and 3-technique on passing downs for a 43 defense. Before becoming a feasible backup option at the next level he will need to significantly improve his hand usage, as he struggles to keep blockers from locking onto his frame.
It is unlikely he’ll make it all the way through training camp, as players who bounce around practice squads do not have a lot of wiggle room.