After Nathan Shepherd played 16 games with five starts throughout his rookie season in 2018, the second-year defensive tackle missed the 2019 season opener as an inactive for the Jets.
Shepherd's absence from the Jets appears is primed to continue well past Sunday's 17-16 loss to the Buffalo Bills.
Shepherd told NFL.com's Tom Pelissero that he faces a six-game suspension for two separate violations of the league's performance-enhancing drug policy. The team confirmed the news Tuesday afternoon.
"All that was going on, I was coming off of a subpar season and a new coaching staff, new playbook, new everything," Shepherd said. "In my mindset, I didn't feel very confident with how everything had gone thus far. In my mind, I was so prepared to come into this offseason and have a successful offseason and train very hard. I felt that because of these limitations, I wasn't going to be able to do that. I made a rash decision, an unwise decision and a selfish decision to look to certain PEDs in order to help me with that recovery process so I would be ready to go."
As he recovered from a pair of injuries earlier in the summer, a shoulder that still might require surgery and a groin that delayed his offseason training, Shepherd failed two drug tests June 27 and July 25.
While he rehabilitated his shoulder, an MRI on his groin showed that he needed sports hernia surgery.
With the Jets' new regime set under the first-year duo of head coach Adam Gase and general manager Joe Douglas, Shepherd told Pelissero that he felt "eager" to make a strong impression in his sophomore season and knowingly took the banned substances.
"I'm grateful to the league for showing some understanding, leniency and fairness, and I appreciate them dealing with it in a timely manner," Shepherd said. "I'm grateful to Jets GM Joe Douglas, the personnel staff and coach Gase, (defensive coordinator) Gregg Williams, (defensive assistant) Blake Williams and (defensive line coach) Andre Carter and the Jets' training staff for their support and their transparency in supporting me through this and, despite this happening, granting me the opportunity to come in every day and earn my spot on the 53-man roster."
Shepherd's agent -- Bardia Ghahremani of International Sports Agency, Inc. -- told Pelissero that his client takes full responsibility and accepts the NFL's pending discipline.
Because of the two violations, the league could have barred Shepherd for a 14 games at a maximum between four for the first and 10 for the second, but will instead combined the two.
Shepherd, who told Pelissero he plans to continue is injury recovery into the fall until he receives his punishment from the NFL, recorded 15 tackles (one for loss) and five quarterback hurries in 2018.