Raiders fullback Marcel Reece was suspended four games without pay Monday for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.
The league announced the ban less than a week after Reece was named to his fourth straight Pro Bowl. Reece will miss the season finale Sunday against Kansas City and the first three games in 2016. He is also ineligible for the Pro Bowl next month.
“I would just hope that at some point the league takes a good look at that process to see if it makes sense,” Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said. “I think there’s room there for something to be done that maybe would be more fair and just. We understand what’s occurred and what the result is and we’ll abide and carry on without Marcel.”
Del Rio would not give any details about what led to Reece’s suspension and why he thinks the policy needs to be changed. Del Rio said that Reece was disappointed and doesn’t feel that the suspension is “really justified.”
Known for his versatility as a runner and receiver, Reece became a stalwart on Oakland’s offense despite playing a position that has been phased out on many teams.
Reece had been used less by the Raiders in recent years and only played about one-quarter of the offensive snaps this season after being on the field about half the time the previous three seasons.
Reece had 10 carries for 36 yards and caught 30 passes for 269 yards and three touchdowns this season.
“He’s not a major part of what we do,” Del Rio said. “He’s a part of what we do, but it’s not like we’re taking out 50, or 60 or 70 percent of our offense when we remove him. We’ll get the next guy up and be ready to roll.”
For his career, Reece has rushed for 844 yards on 183 carries, caught 205 passes for 2,015 yards and scored 15 touchdowns in 92 games over seven seasons.
Reece has one year remaining on his contract. He is allowed to participate in the offseason program and preseason practices and games before the suspension will resume for the first three weeks next season.
Reece’s role had been diminished a bit this season as Jamize Olawale got increased playing time based on his superior blocking skills. Olawale signed a three-year extension earlier this month.
Reece is the second Raiders player to have a suspension that will carry over into next season. Linebacker Aldon Smith was suspended for one calendar year on Nov. 17 for violating the league’s policy on substance abuse. Smith is a free agent after the season but is not eligible to sign a contract or practice with a team until after the suspension is over.
The last Raiders player to be suspended for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances was receiver Andre Holmes, who missed the first four games in 2013 for failing a drug test in the offseason before joining Oakland. The last time a player was suspended for violating the policy while a member of the Raiders came when fullback Luke Lawton was suspended for four games in December 2009.