By Chris Emma–

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (CBS) — From bad to worse to excruciating — life for the Chicago Bears.

Linebacker Jerrell Freeman has been suspended four games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. He will be eligible to return Dec. 19, one day after the Bears’ game against the Packers in Week 15.

Freeman released a statement shortly after his suspension became public:

“I would like to apologize to my coaches teammates, the Bears organization and Bears fans for the embarrassment I’ve caused myself and them. I made a mistake with my prescription medication for which I take full responsibility. As players in the NFL we’re educated on the parameters regarding substances which go into our bodies and I’ve prided myself on doing the right thing throughout my career. I look forward to getting back on the field in four weeks and finishing the season on a positive note.”

Freeman joins teammate Alshon Jeffery as the latest Bears player to get suspended for violating the NFL’s PED policy. Jeffery was suspended last Monday.

Since John Fox became head coach of the Bears, the team has seen five players violated for PED usage. Jeffery, like Ego Ferguson and Tayo Fabuluje before him, admitted they unknowingly took an over-the-counter drug without awareness of its legality.

Fox expressed his “disappointment” Monday, a week after he did the same with Jeffery’s news.

“I don’t think this is unique to the Bears,” Fox said. “It’s an issue everywhere in the league.

“We take it very serious. We don’t accept it. I think we put a lot of time and money into governing it and watching over it, like I said before, while they’re in this building. Unfortunately, they don’t live here.”

Shorthanded due to so many injuries, the Bears now have two of their most important players suspended for four games. Jeffery served the first of his four in Sunday’s 22-16 loss to the Giants.

Morale has already sunk at Halas Hall. Another suspension won’t help the cause as the Bears look to improve from their 2-8 mark.

“I know what kind of person Jerrell (Freeman) is,” Bears tackle Charles Leno said. “He made a mistake, he owned up to it. I forgive him.”

With Freeman forced out, rookie Nick Kwiatkoski will step in next to Danny Trevathan at inside linebacker.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670 and like his Facebook page.