CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Brentson Buckner was suspended for four games Monday for violating the NFL's steroid policy.
Buckner is a vital part of Carolina's defense, which ranks fourth in the league. He has four sacks, 23 tackles and a forced fumble.
The suspension will cost him $250,000 to $300,000 in salary and incentives, according to Buckner's agent, George Mavrikes.
Mavrikes said Buckner took a diet pill before training camp with an ingredient that's on the league's list of banned substances.
"It was all-organic, all-natural, and that's where you get into trouble," Mavrikes said. "He didn't really think that by taking a diet pill it would be banned, because it was not a performance enhancer.
"He just wanted to lose a little weight before camp, but unfortunately, the NFL treats diet pills the same as steroids."
Buckner is eligible to return to the active roster Dec. 2.
The Panthers (3-5) already were without defensive tackle Sean Gilbert, lost for the season last week with a broken hip, and linebacker Dan Morgan, out at least two more weeks after hernia surgery.
Shane Burton, who will start in Buckner's place, said Buckner told him during Carolina's bye week that he might be out.
"He gave me the heads-up that he might be out so I've been getting ready for about a week-and-a-half," Burton said. "He knew that there was a chance, so he just told me to be ready."
Carolina punter Todd Sauerbrun complained Monday that the league is too strict about what the players can take, saying the NFL "treats us like babies."
And defensive end Mike Rucker said even cold medicine has to be checked out by the team before a player takes it.