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Chargers' Antonio Gates among four players suspended by NFL

Thursday was not a good day to be an NFL player.

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL brought down the hammer on Thursday.

The NFL announced the suspensions of four players. All four were suspended for violating the league's substance abuse policy, according to the Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson.

Chargers tight end Antonio Gates, Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, and Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain were all suspended four games. Packers pass-rusher Datone Jones was suspended one game.

The Broncos play the Chargers and Packers this season, but not before the suspensions of Gates and Jones are complete.. Denver will face Green Bay at home in Week 8, San Diego on the road in Week 13, and host the Chargers in Week 17 (full schedule here).

Though the Chargers have had trouble beating the Broncos in recent years, Gates has been a thorn in Denver's side.

The eight-time Pro Bowler has caught 82 passes for 1,014 yards and 9 touchdowns against the Broncos in 21 games (going 8-13). Gates is also San Diego's all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving scores.

The Chargers will have to do without him for the first four weeks of 2015.

The Broncos, meanwhile, are still awaiting word on defensive lineman Antonio Smith, who was excused from the team to address accusations of child abuse.

Even if no charges are filed against Smith, the league could suspend him up to six games based on their personal conduct policy. But Denver's defensive line should be just fine with or without him.