Bucs defensive tackle Akeem Spence, already likely sidelined until October as he recovers from back surgery, has been suspended from the Bucs' season opener due to his arrest on a possession of marijuana charge in Alabama in Jan. 2014.
Spence said two weeks ago that he was "probably a couple more months" away from a healthy return from July back surgery, and the Bucs have since signed Tony McDaniel and Da'Quan Bowers to help their depth at defensive tackle. The 23-year-old started 14 games as a rookie in 2013, then just five last season, those his production increased from 29 tackles as a rookie to 37 (with three sacks) in 2014.
The suspension is a standard punishment for a violation of the league's substance abuse policy -- Spence was stopped in Escambia County, Alabama, just two weeks after Lovie Smith was named coach in 2014. He was charged with a misdemeanor count of possession of marijuana, and he finished a pre-trial diversion program to have the charge dismissed.
The Bucs have good depth at defensive tackle, with starters Gerald McCoy and Clinton McDonald back from last season and free agent Henry Melton signed, as well as McDaniel. Spence's extended absence makes him a likely candidate for either the physically-unable-to-perform list (out six games) or the short-term injured reserve (out eight games) to start the season.