CINCINNATI — Bengals middle linebacker Odell Thurman was suspended Wednesday for the first four games of the season because he violated the NFL's substance-abuse policy, the latest blow to a team already stung by player arrests.
Four others have been arrested in separate incidents during the last two months, focusing attention on Cincinnati's willingness to draft players with troubled pasts.
Thurman, a second-round draft pick out of Georgia last year, led the team in tackles and had five interceptions as a rookie.
"I'm very disappointed," coach Marvin Lewis said. "It's something that he needs to get in line in his life and get himself back ready to play football."
Outside linebacker Brian Simmons will move to the middle spot during training camp, which opens this weekend at Georgetown College in Kentucky. Thurman is eligible to work out and play in the preseason games, but Lewis hasn't decided if he will do so.
Rather than criticize the four arrested players at a preseason media luncheon on Wednesday, Lewis and owner Mike Brown stressed that none of the cases has gone to trial yet.
Three of the four arrested players were high draft picks with either criminal records or a history of problems with their college coaches.
Second-year receiver Chris Henry has been arrested four times since last December. Linebacker A.J. Nicholson, a fifth-round pick in April, was charged last month with burglarizing the apartment of a former Florida State teammate. Also last month, third-round pick Frostee Rucker was charged with two counts of spousal battery and vandalism in Los Angeles.
The most recent arrest came last weekend, when third-year defensive tackle Matthias Askew was subdued with a Taser after Cincinnati police alleged he refused to move an illegally parked vehicle and refused to show identification.
Jets sign Ferguson
NEW YORK — D'Brickashaw Ferguson will be right on time when Jets players report to training camp today.
The No. 4 overall pick signed his contract Wednesday night, the Jets said. Fellow first-round selection Nick Mangold was close to signing his deal, and was expected to join Ferguson at team headquarters on reporting day. The Jets start practice Friday morning under new coach Eric Mangini.
Ferguson, an imposing left tackle, is penciled in to start on the offensive line along with Mangold, a center from Ohio State.
Terms of both deals were unavailable. But Ferguson will probably get at least $18 million guaranteed.
• A day after publicly demanding a trade, Oakland Raiders WR Jerry Porter sat out practice with a calf injury. While other injured players were on the field with their teammates for part of practice, Porter was nowhere to be seen during workouts.
• QB Daunte Culpepper will take part in the Miami Dolphins' first training camp workout Saturday even though he has yet to fully recover from knee surgery he underwent in November.