INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – The Indianapolis Colts expected linebacker Kendyll Pope to make a contribution this season, but they’ll have to wait at least one more year to get him on the field.

Pope was suspended for the season by the NFL on Wednesday for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Pope missed all but two games in 2004 because of a hip flexor injury. “We’ll do as much as we can to help Kendyll get through this, but it’s a situation where he has to satisfy the league,” coach Tony Dungy said. “It’s not a situation I’ve dealt with many times.”

Neither the Colts, who announced the suspension, nor the NFL said what substance Pope had tested positive for.

The Colts put Pope on the reserve-suspended list Tuesday, but the punishment wasn’t announced until Wednesday. Pope’s agent, George Mavrikes, didn’t immediately return a phone message left by The Associated Press.

The suspension begins immediately, and Pope can’t practice or play with the Colts until next August. The length of the suspension indicates the fourth round draft pick in 2004 has tested positive for a banned substance at least three times.

Colts coaches thought Pope fit well in their defense, which favors speed. Despite missing most of last season and being slowed again during training camp by a shoulder injury, the Colts liked what they were seeing from the second-year player. He had three tackles last season.

Indianapolis projected Pope as a solid contributor who could add depth to a young linebacking corps, and he appeared to be making progress.

“I thought the kid had a chance to help us,” defensive coordinator Ron Meeks said. “I feel bad. I really hope he can come around for us.”

Teammates agreed.

Defensive tackle Montae Reagor said Pope added a physical presence to the team’s small linebacking group. Middle linebacker Rob Morris, a former first-round pick and former starter, said Pope added quickness.

“I saw him helping us out a lot on special teams and on the defense,” Cato June said. “He’s a playmaker. Unfortunately, whatever happened, we’re there for him.”

Dungy was disappointed by the suspension.

The Colts drafted Pope despite the injury, hoping he would recover in time to make an impact in 2005. Pope never got a chance.

“I think players always have a responsibility to do as much as they can,” Dungy said. “We don’t have the services of a guy who we think is a good player. From our standpoint, we have to treat it as an injury and some guys have to pick up the slack.”

Pope is the second Colts player to draw a league suspension this year. Indianapolis safety Mike Doss received a two-game suspension in June for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.

AP-ES-08-31-05 2042EDT

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