Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas
Last year, it seemed like everything that could go wrong for the New Orleans Saints did. So far this year, it’s been just the opposite.
Commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday defensive ends Will Smith and Charles Grant won’t be suspended at this time. It remains unclear if suspensions still could come, but it’s unlikely it will happen this season.
Smith and Grant drew suspensions last year for reportedly testing positive for a banned substance. But the suspensions were put off and expected to be enforced this year. Minnesota’s Kevin Williams and Pat Williams also drew suspensions for similar violations, but have challenged them in the legal system.
A federal court recently sided with the NFL on the matter, but allowed the Minnesota players to continue their challenge in state court. Goodell said his decision not to suspend Smith and Grant at this time is because he wants to be fair to the Saints and not treat players differently on conduct matters.
That should be a big boost for the Saints, who spent much of the offseason expecting to be without Grant and Smith for four games. With their two starters in the lineup for the foreseeable future, they can let Anthony Hargrove focus mostly on playing defensive tackle and let Bobby McCray play the role he’s most effective in as a situational pass rusher.
The Saints, who were troubled by injuries last season, already caught a positive break by drawing Detroit in the season opener and they face the Philadelphia Eagles, who could be without injured quarterback Donovan McNabb, on Sunday.