This week, embattled MLB Jonathan Vilma is back in pads and practicing with the Saints, though his actual presence on the field on a Sunday is still far from certain.
The long back and forth of the bounty scandal suspensions is right now at this: the four current and former Saints are suspended, but undergoing appeal, which means that Smith and Vilma could potentially play for the Saints this Sunday in Tampa Bay. The NFL appeal hearing for the newly re-issued suspensions is next Tuesday.
While veteran Will Smith is expected to start at right defensive end, Vilma remains on the Physically Unable to Perform list. Players placed on the PUP in training camp must miss the first six weeks of the season. The team then has a three week window in which the player can practice but cannot play - by the end of that window, the team must promote the player to the 53-man roster or place him on injured reserve.
The Saints have not yet made that decision, but are considering Vilma's rehabilitated knee injury carefully.
Meanwhile, the suspension news for former Saint LB Scott Fujita has become secondary. A starter for the Saints' Super Bowl XLIV team, he signed with Cleveland the next season as a starter at outside linebacker. Fujita, 33, is dealing with a potentially career-threatening neck injury. He played in four games this season so far for the Browns, but missed last week's game with a reported shoulder injury that may be more serious than first thought.
One of the truly great men who helped bring a championship to New Orleans, Fujita is one of the best people involved with the game, and would be missed on the field if his playing career is over.