401 104 LINKEDIN 7 COMMENTMORE

The Dallas Cowboys' already shorthanded defense will be stretched even thinner to start the season.

Cornerback Orlando Scandrick has been suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told reporters on Monday night.

Scandrick, 27, became one of the Cowboys' top cornerbacks last season after taking over a starting role for the injured Morris Claiborne. He recorded 59 tackles and two interceptions and was expected to compete for an outside role with Claiborne, who missed the Cowboys' preseason opener with tendinitis in his right knee.

The suspension is the latest blow to a Cowboys defense that ranked last in the league last year in yards allowed. Dallas lost defensive linemen DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher in free agency, and linebacker Sean Lee is out for the year with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

The Cowboys open the season by hosting the 49ers. They travel to the Titans and Rams before playing the Saints in the final game Scandrick is scheduled to miss.

PHOTOS: NFL player suspensions

Autoplay
Show Thumbnails
Show Captions
401 104 LINKEDIN 7 COMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://usat.ly/Vhki9r