BEREA, Ohio (AP) - The Browns' gaping hole at center just got wider, and their training camp more bizarre.
Alonzo Ephraim, an emergency signing after LeCharles Bentley went down with a season-ending knee injury, was suspended Wednesday for the first four regular-season games for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.
The league said Ephraim may continue to participate in all preseason games, practices and games. He will be eligible to rejoin the Browns' active roster on Oct. 2.
Ephraim played two seasons for the Philadelphia Eagles and started three games for the Miami Dolphins last season. For him to be suspended, this would have to be his second violation under the league's policy.
The Browns signed Ephraim as a free agent on July 29, two days after Bentley tore his patellar tendon on the second day of camp. Ephraim initially was brought in as a backup, but quickly moved into a starting job when veteran Bob Hallen abruptly retired, citing a back problem the Browns say they knew nothing about.
Ephraim started last week's preseason opener against Philadelphia, but earlier this week Browns coach Romeo Crennel said Ross Tucker, acquired last week in a trade from New England, likely will start Friday's exhibition game against the Detroit Lions.
The shuffling at center is only part of what has been a crazy camp for the Browns.
Bentley's injury was followed by cornerback Daylon McCutcheon and right tackle Ryan Tucker needing to have knee surgeries. Both will likely miss the rest of the preseason.
Last week, cornerback Gary Baxter strained a pectoral muscle and will miss three weeks. On Monday, the Browns traded running back Lee Suggs to the New York Jets, who then sent him back to Cleveland after he failed his physical.
And if all that wasn't enough, Browns owner Randy Lerner has bid $118 million to buy Aston Villa, one of the oldest clubs in English soccer.
Despite the apparent gloom and doom, Crennel is staying optimistic.
"There have been some issues at this camp, but I don't look at it as bizarre," he said. "Things happen. There are a lot of bizarre things that happen in football. If you've been around football for a long time, you see quite a few of them. Other things will happen before it's all said and done."