The NFL recently suspended Oday Aboushi for the first game of the 2015 season for violating the NFL's Substances of Abuse policy. According to the report, Aboushi was stopped at a traffic stop in January and the officer found a "very small amount" of marijuana in his car. Aboushi cooperated and was charged only for a traffic violation, but the NFL still decided to suspend him for breaking their policy on drug use. Though he is suspended for the game against the Browns, Aboushi will be eligible to return to the Jets on September 14th and can participate in all preseason activities. Aboushi issued the following apology in a statement:
"I apologize for my actions and understand the repercussions. "This is something I've learned from and I'm focused on moving forward."
This could shed some light on how Aboushi, who started the majority of games for the Jets last season, suddenly found himself on the bottom of the depth chart. Aboushi clearly outplayed Winters in 2014, and after horrible showings by Dozier and Winters in the first preseason game, it's hard to imagine why he ended up running with the third stringers. Bowles has already shown that he has very little patience for players who hurt the team, immediately cutting IK after punching Geno and relegating Sheldon Richardson to just a handful of second team snaps in the first preseason game. Considering the traffic infraction and marijuana discovery occurred way back in January, it is likely that Bowles has known about this for quite some time. It happened a few days before Bowles joined the Jets organization and Aboushi actually reported the event to the team, unlike Sheldon Richardson. It seems very possible that Bowles is punishing Aboushi for getting suspended by cutting his reps and relegating him to the 3s.
Though Aboushi was probably the Jets' best guard in 2014, the former 6th round pick is far from a lock to make the roster. While Winters and Colon finished 65th and 66th in PFF rankings (for guards playing at least 25% of their team's snaps), Aboushi landed at 45th out of 78. It's hardly a case for MVP, but Aboushi finished positively in run blocking and committed only one penalty on the season. Winters, on the other hand, graded out poorly as both a run blocker and a pass blocker while committing more penalties in half the snaps. In fact, only one player (New England's Jordan Devey) managed to grade out below Winters with fewer snaps. Every other player had over 600 snaps, compared to Winters 381, and if Winters had continued on his trajectory for 16 games, he would have likely been ranked as the worst guard in the NFL last year. After Winters went down to a season ending injury, Aboushi stepped in and the line clearly improved. This is part of why it's hard to imagine that Aboushi ended up below Winters on the depth chart solely based on performance.
Now Aboushi will have to prove that he is worth a roster spot despite being unavailable for the first game of the season. In addition, he will be at risk of a much longer suspension if he is ever caught breaching the NFL's policies in the future. Personally, I don't see how the Jets can keep Dozier or Winters and not Aboushi. He was simply a better player last year and this is hardly the crime of the century. He will miss one game, but if he puts it in the rear view after September 14th, Aboushi seems like a solid depth player on the offensive line.