Marshawn Lynch being suspended for the first three games of the regular season is now a certainty after an NFL spokesperson issued a statement that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has upheld the league suspension of Marshawn Lynch.
Lynch had appealed the three-game suspension for his violation of the league's Personal Conduct policy that was handed down in March this past spring, but Goodell saw no reason to change it.
The running back's suspension will begin on Saturday, Sept. 5 and will run through Monday, Sept. 28. He'll miss the season opener at New England (Sept. 14), the home opener against Tampa Bay (Sept. 20) and the Week 3 matchup against New Orleans (Sept. 27).
"It's the league's policy and we're disappointed obviously," said head coach Dick Jauron. "We'll lose a real good football player for three games. Hopefully Marshawn will learn a great deal from it. He's a guy that we have a lot of belief in and we really like this man on our team, but he's paying a price."
Lynch was not available for comment as he had left the field before the news broke late Monday afternoon. The running back can practice through the preseason and participate in all five of Buffalo's preseason games.
His teammates know Lynch will be a loss in the lineup.
"It's obviously a little bit disappointing," said Trent Edwards. "We're going to miss him a lot, he's a big time player for us and a Pro Bowl caliber running back. Three games, those are a big three games at the start of the season when you want to get off on the right foot. But I do have a lot of faith in Fred Jackson, Dominic Rhodes and those guys.
"We'll open up holes for those guys and make some plays. Unfortunately Marshawn won't be there, but we'll have guys step up. It's tough that he has to go through that, but I think he's going to learn his lesson and move on from there."
It's widely believed that part of the reason Buffalo pursued a veteran running back this offseason was to have the necessary personnel to maintain productivity in the ground game while Lynch is forced to watch.
"Dominic has a track record in the league," said Jauron of Rhodes. "He's played for a very, very good football and he's done very well for them. You see him in practice, you see his quickness and his toughness in drills and his ability to catch the ball. He gives us the experienced back that we need."
Jauron confirmed that Jackson however, will be the number one back for those first three regular season contests.
"Going into the season unless something happens it would be Freddy," he said. "Freddy would be the starter. But both will be playing a lot."
Though the suspension was upheld it doesn't really alter the mindset of the team as they have known about the suspension for almost five months. Now that it's been confirmed that it will remain three games, the Bills don't feel they have to make much of an adjustment to the start of the 2009 season.
"I think we've been preparing for him to be out for those three games," said Edwards. "We haven't banked on him being there for those three games. It's just a matter of other guys stepping up. It's as if he was hurt for those three games. It's bound to happen throughout the year and you need guys to prepare each week as if they're going to play whether they're the second or third string. And that's the situation we find ourselves in right now. And Fred and Dominic have to do that for us."