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Evans suspension could further weaken division foe

The Jets could be without starter Josh Evans, who tested positive for marijuana use and could be suspended, when they take on the Patriots in Week 3.

The Patriots and the rest of the AFC East watched in amusement while the New York Jets suffered through a devastating early portion of the offseason. The defending division champs were rendered helpless as one by one several key components were signed away elsewhere.

Leading receiver Laveranues Coles, fullback Richie Anderson, return specialist Chad Morton, starting guard Randy Thomas and kicker John Hall top the list of ex-Jets. But things might be getting even worse for Herman Edwards' club.

According to a New York Times report, defensive tackle Josh Evans' days could be numbered, not only as a Jet, but as an NFL player altogether. Evans faces a lifetime ban from the league after testing positive for marijuana use.

Because Evans is a two-time offender of the league's substance abuse policy, a third strike could mean a lifetime ban from the NFL. The former Tennessee Titan was suspended for the first four games in 1999 and missed the entire 2000 season as a result of previous violations.

Evans signed with the Jets last summer, just a couple of weeks after having a potential third violation overturned through appeal. The Times report indicated that Evans is tested up to 10 times a month and that he plans to similarly fight this ruling as well.

The Jets planned to rotate Evans with rookie first-round pick Dewayne Robertson, who they traded with Chicago to grab with the fourth overall selection. The result of Evans' latest appeal could deal a big blow to those plans. The punishment could range from four games to a full season to a lifetime ban, leaving Robertson alone to fill the void.

Provided there is punishment of some sort, the Patriots stand to benefit from the Jets latest loss. New England hosts New York in its home opener on Sept. 21, the third week of the season. Unless Evans wins a second straight appeal, which will be heard by Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, the Jets will be without another key starter.

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