Tampa Bay's defense was dealt a significant blow Tuesday, but it didn't take place on the football field.
The National Football League informed the Bucs Tuesday that starting free safety Tanard Jackson has been suspended for the first four games of the 2009 regular season for violation of the league's Substance Abuse Policy.
League confidentiality rules prohibit the Bucs from elaborating on Jackson's suspension, but general manager Mark Dominik told the media that Jackson will not appeal the four-game suspension.
Jackson's suspension begins Sept. 5. He is eligible to return to the Bucs' active roster on Oct. 5, which is the week leading up to Tampa Bay's game at Philadelphia.
The former fourth-round pick will not be paid during his suspension. While he can still participate in training camp and preseason, Jackson's absence leaves the Bucs secondary thin at the safety position, where backup S Will Allen, who likely will start in Jackson's place in Week 1, is sidelined with a shoulder injury he sustained in the preseason opener on Saturday night.
The Bucs played linebacker Jermaine Phillips at safety a few times during Tuesday morning's practice because of Allen's injury. The team's plan is to continue to give Phillips reps at both linebacker and safety.
"We talked about that because of what happened with Will Allen's injury," said Dominik. "I did talk to Coach Morris a few moments ago and Jermaine will continue to take reps at both linebacker and safety."
Dominik said the Bucs have no plans to add another safety to their roster.
Jackson (6-0, 200) has started all 32 games he's played in since entering the NFL out of Syracuse in 2007. He notched 102 tackles, seven passes defensed, one interception, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery last season.