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American Football: Saints CB Craver faces season long suspension

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posted on Aug, 24 2004 @ 12:19 PM
Barring a successful appeal, New Orleans Saints cornerback Keyuo Craver faces a season-long suspension for a repeat violation of the NFL's substance abuse policy.

It marks the second time in less than a week that a Saints player has been subject to league sanctions, with linebacker Sedrick Hodge suspended late last week for the first four games of this season because of a repeat substance abuse violation.

The third-year veteran was suspended four games in 2003 for a similar violation. This violation is believed to be his third. Craver cleaned out his locker at the Saints complex on Monday.

Craver, 24, will forfeit his entire $380,000 base salary for 2004 and must apply for reinstatement after meeting the NFL's conditions for his return. Craver has not appealed the season-long suspension and Tuesday is the deadline for doing so.

Citing the confidentiality element of the substance abuse program, league and Saints officials declined to comment specifically on Craver's latest misstep. But coach Jim Haslett stopped just short of confirming the suspension.

"I'm more disappointed in the person himself than for our football team," Haslett told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "We put a lot of trust as a football team in a guy like that, and it didn't work out."

Craver was the No. 5 cornerback on the depth chart but did not play in last Saturday's preseason game at Green Bay; Haslett conceded that the pending suspension was a factor in keeping Craver on the bench. Even though he was far down the depth chart, Craver still had a chance to make the team, given his potential and versatility.

The Saints still have four veteran corners -- starters Fred Thomas and Ashley Ambrose and backups Jason Craft and Fahkir Brown -- but don't really have one standout cover defender. New Orleans had discussed the availability of holdout Packers cornerback Mike McKenzie, but a trade is not imminent.

A fourth-round pick in the 2002 draft out of Nebraska, Craver appeared in 22 games with one start over his first two seasons. He had 19 tackles, three passes defensed and a fumble recovery. Craver also returned five kickoffs for a 25.6-yard average and averaged 11.1 yards on three punt returns.

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