By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON — LaVon Brazill's second NFL season is not off to a strong start.
The Indianapolis Colts wide receiver will miss the first four games of the regular season after violating the league's substance abuse policy, according to a statement released by an NFL spokesperson on Monday.
Brazill is eligible to compete in training camp and the four preseason games, but he can't return to the active roster until Sept. 30 — the day after the Colts' Week 4 game at Jacksonville.
It's not the first time a red flag has been raised around the Ohio University product this offseason. In March, Colts owner Jim Irsay said Brazill "must develop a strong commitment to his craft." And the team moved his locker at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center to a corner location adjacent veteran Reggie Wayne.
A sixth-round draft pick in 2012, Brazill caught 11 passes for 186 yards — averaging a strong 16.9 yards per reception — last season. His lone touchdown came on a 42-yard pass from Andrew Luck to pull Indianapolis within five points with 2 minutes, 47 seconds left in the fourth quarter of the team's 35-33 comeback victory Dec. 2 at Detroit.
Brazill also got a brief look as a kickoff return man, but a fumble during a Week 1 loss at Chicago short-circuited those plans.
The Colts offered no statement on the suspension Monday beyond the league's release.
Brazill had been the front-runner to serve as the team's fourth wide receiver prior to his suspension. His absence could open the door for youngsters Griff Whalen and Nathan Palmer, who have had strong springs.
Palmer, an Elkhart native, originally signed with the San Francisco 49ers last season as an undrafted free agent out of Northern Illinois. He made the team's practice squad coming out of training camp but was signed to the Colts' active roster on Sept. 24.
Palmer appeared in five regular-season games, making one catch and playing primarily on special teams.
Whalen, signed as an undrafted free agent last year, was Luck's roommate at Stanford and was enjoying a solid preseason before a foot injury in an exhibition game at Pittsburgh ended his season.
Whalen has an advantage this season because of his experience in new offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton's system at Stanford.
"Griff's been great," Luck said in May. "I've obviously played with Griff for a long time. He doesn't really surprise me anymore with the things he does. He's done a phenomenal job so far."