By Mike Fisher | @fishsports

DALLAS (105.3 THE FAN) – Dallas Cowboys middle linebacker Rolando McClain, known in the NFL for his enormous talent as well as for his penchant for absences, has been suspended without pay for the first four games of the 2015 NFL regular season for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.

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“I apologize to my family, the Cowboys organization, my teammates and Cowboys fans for my mistake,” said McClain in a statement released Thursday by the NFLPA. “I will not break the rules of my profession in the future, and I regret my error. I look forward to returning to the field on Week 5, when I hope to help my team beat the Patriots.”

Of course, the Cowboys would prefer their Pro Bowl-caliber defender would be available full-time. As 105.3 The Fan reported in February, McClain was fined four game checks for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. McClain was to face the suspension if he failed another drug test. It is therefore assumed he has failed another test — his fourth failure since becoming the eighth player picked in the 2010 NFL Draft.

As we noted in April, before he signed what is essentially one-year a veterans-minimum contract worth $750,000, Cowboys coaches and staffers were not fully in support of his return to the team despite a successful first season with the Cowboys in 2014. This spring, McClain had knee surgery and did not attend Dallas’ OTAs, choosing to remain in Alabama to rehab (something Cowboys management was not pleased with).

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McClain will be able to participate in training camp and preseason games despite the suspension, though he has a track record of being more inclined to participate fully on Sundays rather than the other six days of the week.

Dallas has no great financial incentive in cutting McClain, as the Cowboys invested only $500,000 in him in the form of a signing bonus, which is the only guaranteed money in the deal. But it’s worth monitoring whether the Cowboys have other incentive in considering moving on from him.

The Cowboys signed veteran Jasper Brinkley and have young Anthony Hitchens as candidates to play middle linebacker in McClain’s place.

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