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New Orleans Saints defensive lineman David Onyemata facing 2021 suspension for substance abuse

The New Orleans Saints will be without defensive tackle David Onyemata for a portion of the 2021 NFL season due to a suspension for violation of the league’s substance-abuse policy.

Onyemata announced on Instagram, per The Athletic’s Katherine Terrell, that he was informed by the NFL Players Association that he tested positive for a banned substance. As a result, he will be suspended for a portion of the upcoming season.

As noted by Terrell, Onyemata served a one-game suspension in 2019 for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy following a citation for possession of marijuana.

Onyemata, age 28, was a fourth-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. He enjoyed a breakout year this past season on the Saints’ defensive line, setting career-highs in quarterback hits (16), tackles for loss (10), sacks (6.5) and pass deflections (three) in 15 games.

The Saints’ 6-foot-4 defensive tackle received an 88.2 grade from Pro Football Focus in 2020, recording 46 total pressures.

While the length of the suspension isn’t known, any absence will have a significant impact considering the New Orleans Saints schedule. The team opens in Week 1 against the Green Bay Packers, faces Christian McCaffrey and the Carolina Panthers in Week 2 and travels to Gillette Stadium to battle the New England Patriots in Week 3.

New Orleans is especially thin at defensive tackle. Onyemata and Malcolm Roach were projected starters this season following the departure of Sheldon Rankins. There will be added pressure on Roach and Shy Tuttle to perform early.