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Cincinnati Bengals outside linebacker Vontaze Burfict has been suspended again.  USATSI

Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict has been suspended once again. The NFL announced on Thursday that Burfict will be suspended for the first four games of the 2018 season after violating the NFL's performance enhancing drug policy. 

This will be the third consecutive season during which Burfict is suspended. He was previously suspended in both 2016 and 2017 for violations of player safety rules. He has not played a full season since 2013. 

When he's able to stay on the field, Burfict is an excellent linebacker (the Bengals signed him to an extension early last season that made him one of the highest-paid 4-3 linebackers in the league); but he has developed a reputation over the years as a dirty player that often skirts the rules. As Bengals beat writer Jay Morrison noted, this is the 11th time Burfict has been suspended or fined by the NFL. 

Cincinnati's defense is dependent on Burfict's talent as he is one of their few elite playmakers, but they have not been able to depend on him to stay off the league's suspension list.