KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Chiefs offensive lineman Rokevious Watkins entered the offseason with a chance to compete for a starting job.
But that opportunity and a roster spot are in jeopardy less than three weeks from training camp.
Watkins has been suspended the first four games of the 2014 regular season for violating the league’s substance abuse police, the NFL announced Thursday.
“This morning the NFL notified the Kansas City Chiefs of Rokevious Watkins’ four-game suspension,” the Chiefs said in an emailed statement. “We will have no further comment on the situation or any aspect of the league’s policies.”
Thursday’s announcement marks the second straight offseason Watkins has been suspended for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. The NFL previously suspended Watkins one regular season game in 2013 while he was a member of the St. Louis Rams.
The current suspension doesn’t prevent Watkins from participating in training camp or preseason games. Provided he’s still with the Chiefs following final roster cuts, Watkins is eligible to return on Sept. 30 after serving his four-game suspension.
Watkins, 25, originally entered the league out of South Carolina in 2012 as a fifth-round pick of the Rams before the Rams released him on July 24, 2013.
The Chiefs signed Watkins to a free-agent contract on Aug. 3. He spent seven weeks on the practice squad before the team elevated him to the 53-man roster on Oct. 30.
The third-year pro appeared in two regular season games in 2013 as a reserve offensive lineman, and started the final regular season game at left guard.
Watkins, who measures 6-3, 338 pounds, was widely considered Rishaw Johnson’s primary competition for the right guard position vacated by 2013 starters Geoff Schwartz and Jon Asamoah.
However, the Chiefs bolstered depth with the drafting of guard Zach Fulton and free-agent signings of versatile offensive lineman Jeff Linkenbach and guard Otis Hudson.
Watkins mostly ran with the second-team offense at left guard during organized team activities (OTAs) and minicamp.