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NFL suspends Henry for next two games

Updated: 4:10 p.m.



As they were last Sunday, the Bengals will be without wide receiver Chris Henry for the next two games after the NFL suspended him without pay for violations of the league's personal conduct policy and substance abuse policy. He's also been fined $20,000.

Henry is not expected to appeal the NFL's ruling.

Henry, who has pled guilty to possession of marijuana and a gun charge in the last six months, was benched by head coach Marvin Lewis in the 38-13 loss to the Patriots after he was discovered in a car in which teammate Odell Thurman was arrested for driving while impaired.

Thurman's four-game suspension for violations of the NFL's substance abuse policy was extended to a year following the arrest hours after the Bengals' 28-20 victory in Pittsburgh Sept. 24.

The decision means that the Bengals will play three straight games without one of their top three picks from the 2005 NFL Draft. Thurman, a second-rounder, joins first-rounder and Georgia teammate David Pollack as those lost for the year after Pollack broke his neck in the Sept. 17 victory over Cleveland.

Henry, 23, a third-rounder out of West Virginia, played his two best games before the benching. He is currently third on the club in receiving with 11 catches for 177 yards. His two touchdowns came in the first half in Pittsburgh and 113 yards came in his first 100-yard game of his career against Cleveland.

The move comes on the day the Bengals began their three-day weekend off because of the bye. They return to practice Monday in preparation for the Oct. 15 game in Tampa Bay, followed by an Oct. 22 home game against Carolina.

Henry can't practice for those two weeks, but he can attend meetings and work out by himself at Paul Brown Stadium.

Henry, arrested four times since December, could be looking at another suspension. He is due in Clermont County in two weeks to face a June DUI charge of his own. He was also arrested in June for supplying alcohol to minors.

According to the NFL's alcohol policy, a first offense generally is a fine. But if the player has had a prior drug or alcohol-related misconduct, increased discipline "up to and including a suspension" can be served.

Thurman and Henry became close friends last year during their rookie seasons, but Lewis ordered Thurman's locker cleaned out and said the Bengals didn't want him around PBS while serving the suspension.

Henry, whose salary this season is $350,000, is out $41,176 with the loss of two game checks.

It also hurts the Bengals' rich corps of receivers with Tab Perry (hip) already out for what may be several more weeks. They hope to get something more out of Antonio Chatman, a 5-8 speedy slot receiver who has been hampered by a groin injury since the first weekend of training camp. He was active for the first time against the Patriots this season and is still waiting to make his first catch as a Bengal.

T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who is usually in the slot on passing downs with Henry and Chad Johnson flanking him (he's averaging 16.4 yards on his five third-down catches), would move outside with Chatman or Kelley Washington in the slot. Washington, who has nine catches for 115 yards and a touchdown this season, can also play on the outside.

"Chris is a big part of what we do. He likes to go and get the deep ball and we're going to need guys to step up," Houshmandzadeh said. "We've got guys that can play. Kelley can play. Antonio can play. Guys do different things, but there isn't going to be a dropoff."

The suspension is another twist in a hard road that began two days before the Bengals clinched the AFC North title last December when Henry was first arrested. That was the marijuana charge in Covington, Ky.

The incident spawned a stretch of six Bengals getting arrested in nine different incidents, capped by the Thurman DUI that also took Henry down for the New England game. In the eye of the storm, Lewis has the Bengals off to a 3-1 start as well as their first perfect preseason ever in maintaining there have been no distractions.

But now the off-field antics have cost him one of his most devastating offensive players, which Lewis seemed to be preparing his team for last week.

"We'll see," Houshmandzadeh said. "I don't think it would have mattered at all last game. I think the only thing that could have changed that game is if we had Hall of Famers everywhere. But he helps us. Chris has a career in front of him if he can get it together."

With the recent five-game suspension of Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth for stepping on a player's unprotected head, and messages from NFL Players Association chief Gene Upshaw, Houshmandzadeh isn't surprised with the suspension.

"You think it is (right) if they just got a guy for five games for stomping a guy's face," Houshmandzadeh said. "Talking to Gene, the NFL has an image that other players that came before built up and they're trying to protect it. They don't want us to just come running through it and tearing it down. It's about respecting the game. It's a privilege not a right. You know if something happens, you could be sitting at home and someone else is in your spot."

Henry won't count on the roster for the next two weeks.

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