Gates suspended four games

Gates is tied for ninth in NFL history with 99 career touchdown receptions. Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates will be suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, according to the team’s official website.

Gates will be eligible to make his season debut Oct. 12 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“We are tremendously disappointed for our team and our fans as well as Antonio, but no more disappointed than Antonio is with himself,” said a statement released by the team. “Antonio is a member of the Chargers’ family and we will continue to support him 100 percent. We have the utmost confidence he will stay in excellent shape for the season and be ready to go when he returns in Week 5. While it’s unfortunate to not have him to start the season, we have complete confidence our tight end group will continue to play at a high level.”

He is expected to be replaced in the Chargers’ lineup by either Ladarius Green or David Johnson to start the season.

Gates ranks fourth all-time in receiving yards by a tight end with 10,014.