Panel vacates Saints' bounty suspensions

Friday, Sept. 7, 2012 5:21 PM
Last updated 8:09 PM
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New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma (left) was reinstated Friday after a panel vacated his suspension for being involved in a bounty system.  Susan Poag
Susan Poag
New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma (left) was reinstated Friday after a panel vacated his suspension for being involved in a bounty system.

Jonathan Vilma, Scott Fujita and Will Smith are back in the NFL. For now.

The suspensions of those players, plus unsigned free agent Anthony Hargrove, for their roles in New Orleans’ pay-for-pain bounty scandal were lifted Friday by a three-member appeals panel.

The league reinstated them all a few minutes later.

Smith and Fujita, now with the Cleveland Browns, probably will play in Sunday’s season openers. Vilma can at least rejoin teammates and coaches in New Orleans – and get paid – even if the linebacker is not yet ready to play because of knee problems.

And Hargrove can start talking to NFL teams about giving him another shot, after he was cut by the Green Bay Packers. Still, there’s no telling how long the reprieve will last.

Coming just two days before the first full slate of NFL games this season, the ruling is a setback for Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league.

VIKINGS: Minnesota is willing to wait until game time to determine whether running back Adrian Peterson plays in the season opener against Jacksonville. This was a back track from Thursday, when the Vikings said they would figure out Peterson’s status on Friday night or Saturday morning.

BROWNS: Art Modell will be recognized Sunday by the team he moved to Baltimore.

The Cleveland Browns plan to have an “appropriate recognition” for the late Modell at the season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Modell died Thursday at the age of 87 from natural causes. He remains a vilified figure in Ohio for moving the Browns to Maryland after the 1995 season.

TEXANS: Coach Gary Kubiak said running back Arian Foster and linebacker Brooks Reed sat out Friday’s practice and will be “game-time” decisions for the season opener against Miami.

Foster, the NFL’s leading rusher in 2010, has a sore knee and Reed has a sore hip. Foster, who sat out last year’s opener with a left hamstring injury, says his knee just needed rest. He wouldn’t specify which knee was hurt.

Ben Tate would start for Foster and first-round draft pick Whitney Mercilus would start for Reed, if either can’t go on Sunday.

SEAHAWKS: Running back Marshawn Lynch is listed as questionable for Sunday’s opener at Arizona after being a limited participant in practice most of the week.

Coach Pete Carroll said the team needed to see how Lynch responds to Friday’s practice before making a determination whether he’ll play.

Lynch practiced on Thursday and Friday.

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soapy_725 09/07/12 - 06:18 pm
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