Originally created 11/20/02

Peppers to play against Falcons



CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Julius Peppers' appeal of his four-game suspension will not be heard by the NFL until next week, leaving Carolina's rookie defensive end and the league sack leader eligible to play Sunday against Atlanta.

A hearing for Peppers is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 26.

Peppers' agent, Marvin Demoff, said the league told him his client tested positive for a banned substance in a dietary supplement. The NFL has yet to confirm Peppers' suspension.

Peppers, who leads the NFL with 11 sacks, played in Sunday's loss to Tampa Bay, registering one sack.

"I'm expecting him to be with us until I hear different," coach John Fox said Monday.

Fox said he wasn't sure when he'd know something definitive.

"It could be a week, it could be 20 weeks, I don't know," he said.

If the appeal is heard next week and the suspension is upheld, Peppers would miss games against Cleveland, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Chicago, but be eligible to return for the Dec. 29 season finale at New Orleans.

Carolina defensive tackle Brentson Buckner has already served two games of his four-game suspension for using a banned dietary supplement. He's eligible to return to the lineup Dec. 8.

Buckner, who did not appeal his suspension, believes the league policy is unfair.

"I could see it if I tested positive for a steroid somebody might shoot in their arm - a hard-core steroid," Buckner told The Charlotte Observer. "If I did that, yes, I deserve not to play because I'd be cheating the game of football.

"But my thing is that I take a diet pill and you treat me like a straight-up criminal ... don't expel me from school for chewing bubble gum."

Buckner told The Observer he believes the substance he took was in a dietary supplement he bought at a nutritional store in July to help him keep his weight down before training camp. However, he said the substance wasn't on the product label's list of ingredients.

That doesn't matter to the league, which automatically hands out a minimum four-game suspension on a first offense.

"I know they want to keep stuff clean," he said. "But the thing really needs to be looked at and reworked. It's unjust."

Buckner is not allowed to contact the Panthers or use the team's facilities while serving his suspension.